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JUST A BUNCH OF SOUR GRAPES

Al­berta trade war threats ‘over the top,’ says Hor­gan

- ROB SHAW Canada News · Politics · British Columbia · John Horgan · Victoria · Alberta · Rachel Notley · Kinder Morgan Power Company · West Coast · Ottawa · Justin Trudeau · Ian Anderson · Barack Obama · Arbeidersparty · Supreme Court of Canada · New Brunswick · Brian Lee · Lana Popham

B.C. Premier John Hor­gan VIC­TO­RIA sought to cool a brew­ing trade war with Al­berta on Wed­nes­day, re­fus­ing to re­tal­i­ate to Al­berta Premier Rachel Not­ley’s ban on B.C. wine with a B.C. boy­cott of Al­berta beef.

“It’s not the gov­ern­ment’s in­ten­tion to re­spond in any way to the provo­ca­tion,” he said of Not­ley’s move Tues­day to ban the im­port of B.C. wine. He added he hopes “cooler heads on the other side of the Rock­ies will pre­vail.”

Not­ley’s wine boy­cott was re­tal­i­a­tion for B.C.’s de­ci­sion this month to re­strict bi­tu­men ship­ments from Al­berta as B.C. seeks to dis­rupt the pro­posed twin­ning of the Kin­der Mor­gan pipe­line from that prov­ince to the West Coast.

Hor­gan said he thinks its “provoca­tive” for Not­ley to goad B.C. to try to get a re­sponse from Ot­tawa on the pipe­line. He said his deputy min­is­ters will meet with fed­eral of­fi­cials to­day to try to ex­plain B.C.’s view and that he’s also spo­ken to Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau about the prov­ince’s po­si­tion.

Not­ley ratch­eted up the rhetoric Wed­nes­day in a video re­leased via so­cial me­dia just be­fore Hor­gan’s news con­fer­ence.

“B.C.’s cam­paign to stop Al­berta from ex­port­ing our en­ergy prod­ucts is wrong and it re­quires a clear and un­equiv­o­cal re­sponse,” Not­ley said.

“No one wants a trade fight be­tween two prov­inces, not Al­berta, not B.C., not Canada. Our coun­try can’t work like this, but if it takes this kind of ac­tion to get Ot­tawa to act, I’m afraid we have no choice but to stand up and de­fend Al­berta’s in­ter­ests. In the com­ing days the gov­ern­ment of Al­berta will be closely mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion and pre­par­ing fur­ther ac­tion.”

Hor­gan said he thinks Not­ley’s re­ac­tion has been “over the top.

“With re­spect to es­ca­la­tion, that’s en­tirely in the hands of Premier Not­ley, not me,” he said. “I’m not re­spond­ing in any other way than to say I’m de­fend­ing B.C.’s wine in­dus­try.”

“Cer­tainly I would hope that we’ve seen the end of the back and forth,” added Hor­gan. “What Al­berta does is en­tirely up to them.”

B.C.’s wine in­dus­try says the re­tail value of the sec­tor in Al­berta is $160 mil­lion and ap­prox­i­mately 30 per cent of wine sold in Al­berta is pro­duced or bot­tled in B.C.

Hor­gan also faced crit­i­cism from Kin­der Mor­gan, which sent him a strongly worded let­ter out­lin­ing the numer­ous stud­ies un­der­way on oil spills, re­mind­ing him the pre­vi­ous B.C. gov­ern­ment al­ready en­dorsed the project, ex­plain­ing that the pipe­line is fed­eral ju­ris­dic­tion and warn­ing that pro­posed re­stric­tions would “strike di­rectly at the heart of our coun­try ’s oil and nat­u­ral gas pro­duc­ers.”

“I hope that you will con­sider the sever­ity and con­se­quence of the ac­tions your min­is­ter has pro­posed and that you will ac­cept my of­fer to meet with you to dis­cuss these and any other mat­ters re­lat­ing to the op­er­a­tions of our com­pany in Bri­tish Columbia,” wrote pres­i­dent Ian An­der­son. Hor­gan said he sees no rea­son to meet An­der­son while the mat­ter is be­fore the courts.

Ex­perts warned B.C. Wed­nes­day to take the high road and re­sist the po­lit­i­cal pres­sure to re­spond with its own cor­re­spond­ing ban on any Al­berta prod­ucts. That may be dif­fi­cult with less dis­ci­plined Hor­gan cab­i­net min­is­ters like Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Lana Popham al­ready mus­ing in off-the-cuff re­sponses about an Al­berta beef ban.

“Hope­fully we are more ma­ture,” said Ross Hickey, as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of eco­nom­ics at the Univer­sity of B.C.’s Okana­gan cam­pus. “I’ve heard peo­ple say­ing ‘Oh we should re­tal­i­ate,’ but that’s fool­ish. All we are go­ing to do is hurt do­mes­tic con­sumers.”

A B.C. ban on Al­berta beef, for ex­am­ple, would send restau­rants and gro­cery stores scram­bling and cause price hikes that would ul­ti­mately only af­fect the wal­lets of B.C. fam­i­lies, said Hickey.

B.C.’s restau­rant in­dus­try would not be sup­port­ive of such a move ei­ther, said Ian Tosten­son, pres­i­dent of the B.C. Restau­rant and Food Ser­vices As­so­ci­a­tion. In­stead, his group an­nounced Wed­nes­day a push to en­cour­age con­sumers to buy more B.C. wine to com­pen­sate for money the in­dus­try will lose to the Al­berta ban.

“It’s the Obama you go high when they go low ap­proach,” Tosten­son said. “I think we ig­nore the pol­i­tics of this and get on with it.” How­ever, he added he hopes Not­ley does not ex­pand her ban to in­clude B.C. beer, which would just ramp up ten­sions.

Legally, Al­berta could be break­ing the law with the wine ban by vi­o­lat­ing the New West Part­ner­ship Trade and Trade In­vest­ment and Labour Mo­bil­ity (TILMA) agree­ments. It could also be un­con­sti­tu­tional, though Sec­tion 121 of Canada’s Con­sti­tu­tion Act, which deals with un­en­cum­bered in­ter­provin­cial trade, is be­ing chal­lenged in the Supreme Court of Canada by a New Brunswick man who is ar­gu­ing against re­stric­tions on mov­ing al­co­hol be­tween prov­inces.

“Not­ley has taken this be­low the belt,” said Hickey. “It’s clearly in vi­o­la­tion of TILMA. They can take us to court, they will lose. When we take them to court over the wine thing, we will win. The prob­lem is those things take a long time to re­solve. So no one wins in the short term.”

The real is­sue is not Al­berta and B.C.’s trade war, but Ot­tawa’s in­abil­ity to stand up and as­sert its fed­eral ju­ris­dic­tion over the Kin­der Mor­gan pipe­line ap­proval, said Brian Lee Crow­ley, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the Mac­don­ald-Lau­rier In­sti­tute.

“It’s a ques­tion of whether the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has the gump­tion to as­sert and de­fend its le­git­i­mate ju­ris­dic­tion un­der the law and Al­berta is es­sen­tially sig­nalling that they are doubt­ful that Ot­tawa has the gump­tion to do that and they have tried to raise the stakes in or­der to get the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to re­spond,” said Crow­ley.

 ?? DAR­RYL DYCK/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS ?? Premier John Hor­gan says the prov­ince won’t re­spond to Al­berta’s ban on B.C. wine with a boy­cott of their beef.
DAR­RYL DYCK/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS Premier John Hor­gan says the prov­ince won’t re­spond to Al­berta’s ban on B.C. wine with a boy­cott of their beef.
 ?? JEFF McIN­TOSH/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS ?? Al­berta is ban­ning the im­port of Bri­tish Columbia wines in re­sponse to what Al­berta Premier Rachel Not­ley sees as moves to try to scut­tle the Trans Moun­tain pipe­line ex­pan­sion.
JEFF McIN­TOSH/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS Al­berta is ban­ning the im­port of Bri­tish Columbia wines in re­sponse to what Al­berta Premier Rachel Not­ley sees as moves to try to scut­tle the Trans Moun­tain pipe­line ex­pan­sion.

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