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Minister suggests Alberta's boycott of BC wine could backfire


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VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – Instead of boycotting Alberta beef, drink more BC wine. That’s what our province’s agriculture minister is encouraging people to do as restaurants on the other side of the Rockies stop stocking our wine.

Lana Popham has backed away from any talk of retaliation and she’s even suggesting Alberta’s boycott could backfire after being implemented on Feb. 6.

“BC wine is flying off the shelf, so I am so happy that consumers are getting on board. If you’re following social media, we’ve had a lot of support from Quebec which is kind of cool. We’ve had some wedding planners contact us and say that the bride and groom are specifically identifying BC wines as what they want as part of their wedding.”

When she first heard about the boycott, Popham suggested BC might boycott Alberta beef, but she has since changed her tune. “If you go down that road, farmers are the ones that pay the price. I would absolutely not want to go down that road.”

The sentiment was shared by Premier John Horgan when he addressed the issue with reporters in Victoria. He confirmed BC would not take any “retaliatory” measures including a ban on Alberta beef.

In response to the ban, BC designated April as BC Wine Month to help and Popham thinks it’ll make a difference. The promotion includes giving wineries more funding to market outside Canada.

“More opportunities for small scale and medium scale wineries to have shelf space in our BC Liquor stores. That’s space that they wouldn’t have been able to get before.”

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She adds we can also expect more storefront displays and sample tastings.

An eat and drink local campaign is also planned for May in partnership with the BC restaurant industry.

The wine ban came about following the BC government’s move to block further bitumen shipments to the West Coast — a move that was seen as a threat to the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The $7.4-billion project, approved in November 2016 by the federal government, would triple capacity on the 1,150 kilometre line, which runs from Edmonton to Burnaby.

The project is the linchpin component of Alberta’s fight to get a better overseas price for its oil, which is currently being sold at a discount on the North American market while the province racks up budget deficits over $10 billion.

On Saturday, the BC government announced it was appealing a decision made by the National Energy Board that allows Kinder Morgan Canada to bypass City of Burnaby bylaws in constructing the pipeline.

The NEB ruled in December the company is not required to comply with two sections of city bylaws, which Kinder Morgan had said were hindering its ability to move forward.

Victoria filed to appeal the ruling with the Federal Court of Appeal, and the government says in a statement the board erred by too broadly defining federal jurisdiction over interprovincial pipelines.