Q&A: Why stop at wine? Alberta man boycotts all B.C. products

Alberta resident Lew Galbraith thinks the wine boycott is a good move — in fact, he's been boycotting all B.C. products for months now.

'If you're going to cut a hole in my wallet of commerce, I'm going to do the same,' says Lew Galbraith

Albertan Lew Galbraith refuses to buy anything from B.C. to protest B.C.'s decision to further review the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline. (Cameron Spencer, Remy Gabalda, Paul J. Richards, Tobias Schwarz/Getty Images)

As the Alberta boycott on B.C. wines continues, Alberta residents are meeting it with mixed reactions.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley imposed the boycott after B.C.'s government called for more research into the behaviour of spilled bitumen — a move that could delay the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project.

Alberta bar owner Evan Watson is dismayed his establishment can't serve B.C. wine.

"We exist to try and provide a sense of food community and agriculture within Canada, a big part of that is having access to local wine," said Watson.

While Watson thinks the boycott is an unfortunate "knee-jerk" reaction, not all Albertans share his perspective.

Lew Galbraith lives in Strathcona County near Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, and he's been boycotting all B.C. products for nearly two months.

He joined host Stephen Quinn during CBC's The Early Edition to explain why he feels this boycott is a fitting punishment for B.C.

You haven't just stopped buying B.C. wines, what else are you boycotting from B.C.?

I never did buy B.C. farmed fish because of the destruction of those coastal fish farms.

I used to buy B.C. greenhouse farmed tomatoes from Abbotsford, but I don't do that anymore. Stuff I got on my counter is from Mexico.

What made you stop buying B.C. products?

... When they came out with their great big, 'We're going to stop all pipelines and do this and do that' I decided right then and there it's time to pick up the pace here.

If you're going to cut a hole in my wallet of commerce, I'm going to do the same.

An oil tanker passes under the Lions Gate Bridge. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Isn't B.C. Premier John Horgan making the same point that you make about fish farms — except he's worried about increased oil tanker traffic harming the coast?

Has he had a spill out of the last 54 years? [Editor note: The Trans Mountain pipeline has had spills. Its website cites 82 since 1961, which it has reported to the National Energy Board].

Is there a spill of lice from the fish farms into the wild waters … there now?

I mean, look at what problems you got before worrying about future potential problems.

Have you had an oil spill from the 54 years of pipeline that's been there now?

Do you think transporting oil by ship is a perfectly safe thing to do?

99.999 per cent, yes.

Do you think Notley's ban on wine is effective?

... It was a front-page news thing she did and it bought her thousands of votes, and she needs every damn vote she can get to be able to survive.

The damage of saying, 'We're not going to buy any more of your wine' ... is minimal compared to the damage B.C. is trying to do to Alberta's industry.

It's more and more guys like me that are going to say, 'I'm done with that.'

Right now I'm buying an Australian Riesling that I really like and I quit buying the red wine from the Kelowna area.

Do you think this is going to make the B.C. government change its mind about pipelines?

No.

It would take someone in the federal government with balls enough to stand up. And [Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau's proved he's not that guy.

He wouldn't want to get that little tarnish on his glow.


With files from The Early Edition


This interview has been edited for clarity and structure. To hear the complete interview, click on the audio below.

Alberta resident Lew Galbraith thinks the wine boycott is a good move — in fact, he's been boycotting all B.C. products for months now. 6:09

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story provided incorrect information about the pipeline's past spill history.
    Feb 09, 2018 10:08 PM PT