Fort McMurray, Alta., restaurant refuses to serve B.C. wine after proposed bitumen ban

A restaurant in Fort McMurray, Alta., says if B.C. doesn't want to take Alberta's oil, they don't have to take our wine.

'I can’t help support an economy in a province that won’t support us'

Dishes at Asti Trattoria Italiana will no longer be paired with B.C. wine after owner Karen Collins announced she was removing all bottles from their menu in response to Premier Horgan's proposal to ban bitumen exports. (Asti Trattoria Italiana/Facebook)

A restaurant in Fort McMurray, Alta., says if B.C. doesn't want to take Alberta's oil, they don't have to take our wine.

Asti Trattoria Italiana announced on Facebook Thursday that it was removing all B.C. wines from its menu in response to the province's restrictions on bitumen transport from the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.

"While removing a few wines from our list may do very little, I hope other Alberta establishments will follow suit," restaurant owner Karen Collins said in a post.

"I wanted to ... make my own personal stance. It's me, and you can either love me or hate me, but I feel that if there's a way to get a message to the government (in B.C.), through an impact on your economy and through your industries, that industries there will lobby and end this lunacy. It's crazy," Collins told On The Coast host Gloria Macarenko.

The decision to stop serving B.C. wine was inspired by a deep love for her community after seeing it hit hard by wildfires and unemployment. 

"When we have a province that's beside us that we consider a friendly province ... and we see them do something that has an impact on our economy here and our people, it's very hurtful."

Collins said reaction to the Thursday morning post is better than she expected. In about six hours, she said it was shared 71 times and amassed more than 200 reactions.

"I'm feeling a lot of love here in Fort McMurray. It was just a little post ... to really express how I felt as a resident here and as a business owner. It's gone viral," she said.

Mutual support

There were eight B.C. wines on their list and Collins said they were the restaurant's best sellers, but she's since replaced them with bottles from Italy, the U.S., New Zealand and Australia.

"I can't help support an economy in a province that won't support us."

She emphasized the support that Fort McMurray provided for the province's Interior communities during B.C.'s wildfires over the summer.

Trailers full of donations were shipped to food banks and staff from the Alberta Emergency Management Agency to help with recovery efforts.

Collins said she's "taking this attack personally," because the support isn't being returned during a time when Alberta's economy is hurting.

"I hope that Premier Horgan will see his way to being a little more friendly to our industry."

"We've always worked together, and, in these economic times, now's not the time to turn our backs on each other."

B.C. Wine Institute responds

In a statement, the B.C. Wine Institute said they found it "unfortunate to learn that an Alberta restaurateur has decided to boycott B.C. wine over a policy dispute in another sector."

"A number of B.C. restaurants proudly feature farm-raised Alberta beef paired with our premium wine products on their menus. Both products, from our two great provinces, complement and enhance each other. It's a perfect marriage of what Western Canada has to offer," it read in part.

"In a perfect world, we would support each other, and hope that politics wouldn't infringe on the finer things in life."

According to the statement, 11 per cent of all B.C. wine sold in Canada is sold in Alberta. Of all wine sold in Alberta, 3.5 per cent is B.C. wine.

With files from On The Coast


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