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'You still have friends in BC,' says Chamber of Commerce to neighbours in Alberta

Last Updated Feb 2, 2018 at 2:08 pm PST

(iStock Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Not everybody in BC agrees with Victoria’s decision to consider restricting the flow of bitumen through our province. That’s the message from a group representing 36,000 businesses in this province.

This comes as Alberta threatens economic retaliation, and even individual businesses in that province begin their own small protests.

You may have seen a few things on social media about this. One restaurant in Alberta, for example, has taken BC wine off the menu.

But Val Litwin, president of the BC Chamber of Commerce, says he wants our neighbours to know there are varied views on the Trans Mountain expansion. He says a recent poll finds 51 per cent of his group’s members support the project.

“There’s a community, there’s a province here that wants to see this project go forward. And I would encourage those people that believe in this project to stand up and be heard and be counted.”

“If there was a message I could send to our neighbours in Alberta, it’s that you still have friends in BC,” he adds. “Our data says that the folks here in British Columbia that support the Kinder Morgan expansion outweigh the number of folks that oppose the project by more than a factor of two.”

Litwin says we have to think about the big picture.

“Certainly, I would still say this to our premiers — let’s elevate the thinking, let’s elevate the vision here. We’ve got businesses on both sides of the border that depend on each other for success. So, we need to create more of a team spirit in BC and Alberta.”

But if you’re frightened about some of the threats of economic retaliation hinted at by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, local economist Werner Antweiler with the Sauder School of Business says it’s not worth worrying.

“There’s actually no real stepping down on actual trade but it’s, you’re looking at future trade possibilities.”

He says a lot of the actions hinted at simply aren’t going to happen. “I think there’s a lot of speculation, a lot of posturing. There’s a lot of turning up the heat in the debate. But ultimately, it really comes down to business.”