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'Schoolyard squabble': BC Liberals call for end to pipeline dispute, cite winery impacts

Last Updated Feb 9, 2018 at 2:03 pm PDT

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Summary

The leader of the BC Liberals is calling out Premiers John Horgan and Rachel Notley over their "trade dispute"

Andrew Wilkinson says the "schoolyard squabble" between BC and Alberta is unfairly punishing the local wine industry

Alberta halted BC wine imports after the BC NDP said it would limit bitumen shipments pending spill response studies

KELOWNA (NEWS 1130) – The new leader of the BC Liberals is taking shots at BC and Alberta’s premiers, saying the emerging trade war is affecting the local wine industry.

This comes more than a week after our provincial government announced further shipments of bitumen from Alberta to BC would be limited.

“In response, the Alberta government — run by an NDP premier — has picked a fight with the BC wine industry and has cut off the access of Alberta consumers to British Columbia wines,” leader of the official opposition Andrew Wilkinson says.

Speaking from the Sandhill Winery in Kelowna, the new party boss says the wine industry brings in billions of dollars and employs thousands of workers. Now, he claims those whose livelihoods depend on these businesses are the ones that are being hurt.

“This industry’s worth about $70 million a year, it’s over a million dollars a week in sales to Alberta. They’re now going to disappear overnight because the Alberta government controls access to the Alberta Liquor control board, and they can tell them to just stop taking shipments. It’s over.”

Wilkinson says it’s high time for Horgan to do something, and hopes the federal government will step in if that doesn’t happen.

“My suggestion is it’s high time for John Horgan to swallow his pride, show some leadership, get on a plane to Edmonton and solve this problem,” he says. “I’m very hopeful that some more mature minds in Ottawa are making the phone calls to both the government of Alberta and the government of British Columbia to say that this is not in the interest of Canada, or of British Columbians, or of Albertans.”

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BC’s environment minister tabled a proposal to restrict any increase in bitumen shipments until more spill response studies are done, which would effectively delay the Kinder Morgan pipeline project from moving forward.

Wilkinson points out the project was federally approved and believes the Horgan government’s move to “initiate a plan to stall” the pipeline was unnecessary.

“There is no upside to picking fights with your neighbours,” he says. “When things like this happen, it’s essential to swallow your pride and go ahead and make the necessary arrangements to move ahead in the interest of the citizens of your province. That applies to Rachel Notley just as much as it applies to John Horgan.”