Although Alberta’s ban on the sale of B.C. wines in that province is over, the dispute between the two provinces remains a national embarrassment.
Because of British Columbia’s position on the Kinder Morgan pipeline, Alberta premier Rachel Notley stopped the import of all B.C. wines into Alberta.
The B.C. government has said it would restrict increased shipments of bitumen while it continues to study the effectiveness of spill response and cleanup.
The wine embargo was lifted last Thursday, but it should not have been imposed in the first place.
Whatever anyone thinks of the B.C. government’s position on the pipeline, stopping the movement of B.C. wines into Alberta did not address the issue. Instead, it served to heighten tensions and create a spirit of animosity between the two provinces.
And it has set a dangerous precedent for provincial governments.
If Alberta was able to stop the movement of B.C. wines because of a trade dispute, would it be possible for British Columbia to halt the import of Alberta beef? Could another interprovincial dispute result in a province banning the sale of Quebec maple syrup or automobiles manufactured in Ontario?
Such questions may appear ridiculous, but if one provincial government can impose an embargo, what is to prevent others from similar actions?
Interprovincial sanctions benefit nobody. They only serve to weaken trade ties between provinces and weaken the Canadian economy.
Producers lose income, consumers lose the choices they once enjoyed and governments imposing such measures appear petty and childish.
Whatever differences exist between provinces, these need to be handled through proper legal and governmental channels. Otherwise, Canada’s reputation on the world stage will be that of a country riddled with internal strife.
If this country is to have a strong role internationally, there is no room for petty moves such as interprovincial trade embargoes.