Fuhr: Of pipelines and politics

Kelowna-Lake Country MP Stephen Fuhr jumps into the debate on the B.C. Alberta wine battle

By Stephen Fuhr

Canada’s Constitution gives jurisdiction over interprovincial trade, including interprovincial pipelines, to the federal Parliament. It is under this authority that the Trans Mountain Expansion Project was approved in 2016 at the federal level of government, followed by approval by the BC government in January 2017.

Whether or not Premier John Horgan will try to impose new barriers on the Trans Mountain Pipeline remains to be seen.

Until that time, efforts are being undertaken to quell an escalating trade war between BC and Alberta to reverse the damage that is already being done to the BC wine industry.

This past week I have been in contact with the Canadian Vintners’ Association, the British Columbia Wine Institute and the Mark Anthony Group to discuss the economic impact of a BC wine ban in Alberta.

I also took the opportunity to raise this issue in both Pacific and National Cause to ensure my colleagues clearly understood what was at stake.

I would like to assure stakeholders that the Prime Minster is working with both provinces to diffuse the confrontation and move towards a resolution.

Our wine industry counts on the consumers of Alberta for $160 million in retail wine sales, the second largest market outside of BC, and there is absolutely no fairness or gain in using the industry as a scapegoat.

When it comes to pipelines, most British Columbians and Canadians are legitimately concerned about the energy sector’s environmental impact on our coastal waters.

But many constituents in Kelowna-Lake Country have expressed the necessity of a balanced approach in determining whether or not pipelines should go ahead, recognizing that the natural resource sector remains an important source for jobs and the revenues that support local and regional economies.

As a result of our Government’s commitment to balancing the environment with the economy, we now have in place an Oceans Protection Plan to safeguard our coasts and ensure the health of our marine environment, including protecting the Southern Resident Killer Whale population.

We have placed a formal tanker moratorium along British Columbia’s north coast, and the Canadian Coast Guard now has more people, more authority, and more equipment to do its vital and necessary work.

This past week our government brought forward new legislation that would put in place better rules for environmental and regulatory reviews in Canada. With these better rules, Indigenous peoples, companies, investors, and all Canadians can be confident that good projects will be built in a way that protects our environment while creating jobs and growing our economy.

The decision we took on the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline was based on facts and evidence and what is in the national interest of Canadians, and we stand by this decision.

In a free and open society, the threat of protectionism is a zero sum game, especially when people’s livelihoods hang in the balance. Calmer heads must prevail, in all aspects of this discussion, for the good of the people of BC and for the good of the nation.

Stephen Fuhr is the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country

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