B.C. challenges Alberta wine ban under free trade rules

The B.C. government is challenging Alberta’s ban on B.C. wines through the Canadian Free Trade Agreement’s (CFTA) dispute settlement process.

According to a release, the province has notified the Alberta government that it is formally requesting consultations under the CFTA regarding Alberta’s embargo on the sale of B.C. wine. 

“Alberta’s actions threaten the livelihood of the families that have worked so hard to build B.C.’s world-class wine industry,” Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology Bruce Ralston said in the release.

“These actions are inconsistent with Alberta’s obligations under the CFTA, and we will protect our reputation and the interests of British Columbians.”

Sour grapes

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced the ban on B.C. wine in early February, saying she wants progress on an impasse with B.C. over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The dispute began shortly after B.C. Premier John Horgan’s government announced a proposal to restrict increased shipments of diluted bitumen while it studies the environmental impact of a potential spill.

B.C. is also appealing a National Energy Board decision that allowed pipeline builder Kinder Morgan Canada to bypass local regulations in the construction of its pipeline.

On Friday, Notley threatened to ratchet up the pressure if B.C. doesn’t reverse its decision to ban the increased shipping of bitumen off its coast pending the review of spill safety measures.

Alberta believes B.C.’s move will effectively kill Kinder Morgan Canada’s pipeline expansion, which the province deems critical to getting a better price for its oil.

Federal officials have been meeting with their counterparts in B.C. to find a solution to the dispute. Notley says the federal government — not B.C. — has the final say on what is transported through interprovincial pipelines.


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