'All Canadians should be concerned': B.C. Wine Institute launches challenge to Alberta ban

The B.C. Wine Institute says it is seeking an injunction against Alberta’s ban on vintages from this province.

B.C. Wine Institute says it's notified the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission of bid for injunction

The B.C. Wine Institute says the industry employs about 12,000 people in British Columbia (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

The B.C. Wine Institute says it is seeking an injunction against Alberta's ban on vintages from this province, calling the move "unconstitutional."

The industry group's president, Miles Prodan, says he's surveyed wineries across the province, and estimates they've lost about $1 million in the last two weeks because of the ban.

"It's clearly about prohibiting interprovincial trade. That's really the bigger issue here," he told CBC News.

"We really think all Canadians should be concerned, because if wine can be prohibited based on where it's from — the province of origin— then so can any other product from any other province."

Prodan said his group notified the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission on Wednesday morning of its intention to challenge the ban in the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta. The plan is to file for the injunction next week.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced the ban on B.C. wine earlier this month, escalating a dispute with B.C. over plans for expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

The disagreement began shortly after B.C. Premier John Horgan's government announced a proposal to restrict increased shipments of diluted bitumen while it studies the environmental impact of a potential spill.

The B.C. government has said it is challenging the move under the the Canadian Free Trade Agreement.

'We used to be so close'

Alberta filed another salvo in the ongoing battle Wednesday, taking out a full-page ad in the Victoria Times Colonistshowing a map of Canada with B.C. breaking away from the rest of the country.

"We used to be so close," the ad reads.

It accused B.C. of "trying to break the rules of Confederation" by going against federal approval of the pipeline expansion project.

"Pipelines are the safest, greenest, most cost-effective way to move oil to market," the ad claims.

It does not, however, mention anything about the wine ban.

In all, it cost the Alberta government $62,000 to take out the ads in the Times Colonist and other B.C. newspapers.

The Alberta government took out a full-page ad in the Victoria Times-Colonist on Wednesday. (Gregor Craigie/CBC)

Alberta Economic Development Minister Deron Bilous said in an interview that the pipeline bottleneck is costing Alberta — and Canada — billions of dollars and lost jobs due to discounted oil prices.

He said Alberta will fight the court application and won't back away from any of its ongoing actions.

"We will see them in court. We'll see them at a tribunal. We'll see them in a courtyard. We will fight British Columbia wherever we need to in order to ensure that this pipeline gets built," said Bilous.

B.C. wine industry employs thousands

According to the B.C. Wine Institute, more than 12,000 people are employed in the wine industry in this province.

About 20 per cent of wine produced and bottled in B.C. is sold in Alberta, amounting to sales of about $70 million last year.

Prodan pointed out that wineries also depend on visitors from Alberta during the warmer months of the year.

"We've always had a strong relationship with Alberta," he said. "We're concerned that this will continue on and lengthen out and impact tourism season."

With files from the Canadian Press


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