It appears the Alberta government is looking to turn wine into access to water.
BC water, that is. Moving its black gold (as thick as Texas Tea) to the coast and beyond.
I’ll stop short of calling it a Hillbilly move.
But the gambit to spin wine producers into a brewing trade war between that province and British Columbia over the Trans Mountain pipeline isn’t sitting well with BC’s wine industry.
“We are shocked that the Alberta Premier and Government are aggressively boycotting BC wineries over a yet-to-be-determined British Columbia government policy in a different sector,” said Miles Prodan, President and CEO of the BC Wine Institute.
“We are disappointed that this political decision is threatening our progress and threatening the successes that have benefited small businesses in both the Alberta and BC economies.”
Mr. Prodan was responding to an announcement by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley earlier today that the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) will be halting — immediately — the importing of all BC wines.
The move comes in response to B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman’s proposed ban on increased bitumin shipments and a call for further review of the risks associated with a pipeline expansion that would carry that diluted bitumen from the Alberta Tarsands to Burnaby and from there to tankers creeping down the Burrard Inlet to the Pacific.
In Alberta, the AGLC controls most alcohol imports into the province. It distributes to private liquor stores.
Alberta’s NDP government says the boycott will impact the BC industry — which reportedly earned about $70 million last year from sales to its western neighbour — and force a little pressure on BC’s NDP government.
“The wine industry is very important to BC,” Premier Notley reportedly said at a news conference from the Alberta Legislature. “Not nearly as important as the energy industry is to Alberta and Canada, but important nonetheless.
“I know a lot of Albertans who love BC wine. Quite frankly, I’m one of them.”
Apparently, according to the BC Wine Institute, the industry is very important to Alberta as well.
The more than 17 million bottles of BC wine sold in Alberta in 2017 had a retail value of at least $160 million, the institute says, meaning the boycott will cost Alberta retailers $9 for every $7 it costs BC producers.
Not surprisingly, the boycott has brought swift comment from producers, political commentators and wine lovers everywhere. Here’s a sampling from Twitter: