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Tuesday afternoon, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced that the province would no longer be importing wines from British Columbia as its latest retaliation in the ongoing inter-province trade war. B.C. wines account for approximately 95 per cent of the Canadian wine sold in Alberta (to the tune of $72 million) so this boycott will have an immediate, drastic effect on consumers and business-owners in the province.

This move is the latest escalation in a trade spat between Alberta and B.C. over their differing views on the new Kinder Morgan Transmountain Pipeline. Last week, Alberta also suspended talks over buying electricity from their western neighbours.

In 2013, Kinder Morgan filed for a permit to add a second pipeline running parallel to a currently existing one between Edmonton, AB and Burnaby, BC. While the Alberta provincial government is in support of the project because it will create construction jobs and be a vital to the province’s economy, B.C. is not convinced.

British Columbia said in 2016 that they could not support the pipeline since Kinder Morgan did not provide sufficient information on spill prevention. The pipeline is unpopular among environmentalists and First Nations in particular for its potential damage to the land and the fact that it covers Indigenous territory. That same year, the federal government okay-ed the pipeline under 157 conditions that covered environmental and Indigenous protections.

Last week, B.C. called for further investigation into the risk of oil spills by the new pipeline, prompting Alberta’s energy and now wine retaliation. Premier Notley said that she’s a B.C. wine-drinker herself, but encouraged Albertans to instead pick up a case of “terrific Alberta craft beer.” She added that she regrets the negative impact her government’s decision will have on the B.C. wine industry, but she is frustrated with B.C.’s resistance to the already-approved project and their attempts to flout the rules.

B.C. Premier John Horgan said in a written statement that he finds the move inappropriate and believes the Alberta government should have gone through proper legal channels to make their disapproval known.

“Our consultation on proposed new regulations hasn’t even begun, but Alberta has seen fit to take measures to impact B.C. businesses,” he wrote, “I urge Alberta to step back from this threatening position. We stand with B.C. wine producers and will respond to the unfair trade actions announced today.” He also said that he would not be retaliating with a similar boycott.

The real losers in this whole spat are not the politicians duking it out with bans and reviews, but the B.C. wineries, Albertan businesses and Albertan wine-drinkers. More simply: Canadian citizens are literally paying for this disagreement. And they have opinions ranging from anger to confusion about whose side to take. Oh, and also some non-Albertans are being very public about their B.C. wine consumption. You can decide for yourself whether to interpret that as either support for B.C. wineries that will take a financial hit or a shot at Albertans who can’t get their hands on B.C. wine anymore.

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