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LETTER: Lack of clarity and transparency in Alberta wine sales decision

As consumers, we deserve clarity and accountability from our regulatory bodies
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Dear Editor:

I am writing to express my growing frustration and bewilderment with the Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis Commission (AGLC) regarding their recent decision to ban direct-to-consumer shipments from British Columbia wineries to Alberta consumers. This ban not only undermines consumer choice and access to a diverse range of wines but also appears to be driven by protectionist motives rather than legitimate regulatory concerns.

What exacerbates this situation is the lack of transparency and accountability in the AGLC’s decision-making process. Despite my formal request for specific details regarding the legal basis and rationale behind the ban, I have received no response from Mr. Peck, the vice-president of regulatory services, who I initially reached out to on Feb. 20, 2024. This silence speaks volumes about the AGLC’s disregard for the concerns and inquiries of consumers.

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Furthermore, I find it perplexing that the AGLC has failed to respond to our offer to collect the taxes they charge producers and remit them to Alberta. This demonstrates that the issue at hand is not solely about taxation but rather about protecting the interests of larger domestic and foreign wineries at the expense of smaller, independent producers.

Adding to the irony, I must highlight my personal experience with ordering wine from two Alberta liquor stores, one in Edmonton and the other in Calgary. Remarkably, these orders were processed seamlessly, and the wine was shipped and received promptly. The inconsistency in treatment between out-of-province wineries and Alberta liquor stores is glaring and raises serious questions about the fairness and equity of the AGLC’s policies.

It is ironic that Alberta, a province that often complains about being unfairly targeted by Ottawa, is now engaging in similar protectionist tactics against B.C. wineries. This hypocrisy undermines the principles of free trade and fairness that should underpin interprovincial relations in Canada.

As consumers, we deserve clarity and accountability from our regulatory bodies. The lack of response from the AGLC only reinforces the perception that their actions are motivated by factors other than the public interest.

I urge the AGLC and the Alberta government to reconsider their stance on direct-to-consumer shipments and engage in meaningful dialogue with stakeholders to find a solution that promotes fair competition and consumer choice. It is time for Alberta to lead by example and uphold the principles of free trade and fairness that are essential to the prosperity of our nation.

I hope that the newspaper will publish my letter and extend an invitation to the AGLC to respond to the issues raised herein. Transparency and accountability are non-negotiables in a democracy, and it is imperative that the concerns of consumers are heard and addressed.

Ron Kubek, owner

Lightning Rock Winery