In­no­cent par­ties hurt in B.C.-Al­berta spat

The Province - - NEWS - Mike Smyth msmyth@post­ twit­

Back in 2015, Os­car-win­ning ac­tress and ac­tivist Jane Fonda paid a visit to B.C. to join the fight against pipe­lines and big oil.

Fonda took square aim at Kin­der Mor­gan, the Texas-based com­pany back­ing the con­tro­ver­sial Al­berta-to-B.C. Trans Moun­tain pipe­line that’s now sparked a trade war be­tween the two prov­inces.

“I stand with you here to­day against Kin­der Mor­gan,” Fonda told a bois­ter­ous Van­cou­ver rally called “Toast the Coast Be­fore the Coast is Toast.”

Now flash for­ward two years. Bri­tish Columbia’s new NDP govern­ment is fight­ing the pipe­line, pro-pipe­line Al­berta is fight­ing back by ban­ning B.C. wine, and B.C. re­sponded with full-page news­pa­per ads de­fend­ing the wine in­dus­try.

The hash­tag theme of B.C.’s ad cam­paign? #ToastTheCoast. The pro-pipe­line Lib­er­als in the B.C. leg­is­la­ture pointed out the re­mark­able mar­ket­ing sim­i­lar­i­ties on Wed­nes­day.

“The ads sup­pos­edly sup­port the wine in­dus­try,” said Lib­eral MLA Shirley Bond. “But the ads may well sug­gest a dif­fer­ent agenda. ‘Toast the Coast’ was the ral­ly­ing cry of those who op­posed the Trans Moun­tain project!”

Bond asked Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Lana Popham “why the govern­ment ads mir­ror the anti-de­vel­op­ment slo­gans of her friends” but Popham in­sisted the ads are not meant to fur­ther drag the in­dus­try into a po­lit­i­cal pipe­line fight.

“We’re stand­ing right be­hind them, giv­ing them what they need,” Popham said, re­veal­ing the govern­ment will des­ig­nate April as “B.C. Wine Month” and ex­pand shelf space in govern­ment liquor stores for B.C. wines.

All of which left new Lib­eral Leader An­drew Wilkin­son shak­ing his head over the spec­ta­cle of two NDP govern­ments us­ing an in­no­cent in­dus­try as po­lit­i­cal am­mu­ni­tion in a pipe­line war.

“Get on that plane to Ed­mon­ton,” Wilkin­son urged Pre­mier John Hor­gan in the leg­is­la­ture.

“Eat some hum­ble pie. Solve this prob­lem.”

But there’s no way Hor­gan will go scur­ry­ing off to Al­berta with his tail be­tween his legs to make nice with Al­berta Pre­mier Rachel Not­ley now.

Hor­gan is out on a po­lit­i­cal limb with no way to climb back down. Not­ley is, too.

Hor­gan must fight against the pipe­line be­cause he’s in bed with the B.C. Green party and faces a re­volt from the pow­er­ful en­vi­ron­men­tal wing of the NDP if he doesn’t.

Not­ley must fight for the pipe­line be­cause Al­berta’s dev­as­tated econ­omy needs those higher Asian oil prices and she faces an elec­tion next year.

And even though the B.C. govern­ment toned down its anti-pipe­line rhetoric in this week’s throne speech, Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Ge­orge Hey­man re­peated the threat that started the whole war with Al­berta: B.C. may block ex­panded heavy-oil ship­ments from Al­berta dur­ing a new pipe­line re­view.

As this po­lit­i­cal preen­ing and pos­tur­ing goes on, the col­lat­eral dam­age is mount­ing.

The B.C. wine in­dus­try has been dragged into a fight it has noth­ing to do with. Al­berta has cut off talks on po­ten­tial elec­tric­ity pur­chases from B.C.

And now comes con­fir­ma­tion that Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau’s pro-pipe­line fed­eral Lib­eral govern­ment can­celled a news con­fer­ence with the B.C. govern­ment last week to jointly an­nounce child-care fund­ing.

The of­fi­cial rea­son for the can­cel­la­tion? A “sched­ul­ing con­flict.” If you be­lieve that, I have a slightly used Pattullo Bridge I’d like to sell you.

In­no­cent play­ers are get­ting hurt in a pipe­line war that will only get uglier.

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