Edmonton

Fort McMurray restaurant boycotts B.C. wine over pipeline spat

A Fort McMurray Italian restaurant has fired what could be the opening salvo in an Alberta-British Columbia trade war.

'Wine is very political for me. It's not an attack on the wineries or the wine industry'

Fort McMurray restaurant owner Karen Collins refuses to serve B.C. wines alongside her pasta. (David Thurton/ CBC)

A Fort McMurray Italian restaurant has fired what could be the opening salvo in an Alberta-British Columbia trade war. 

Karen Collins, owner of Asti Trattoria Italiana in the oilsands capital, said Thursday the restaurant will no longer carry B.C. wines in response to the province's proposal to restrict bitumen shipments from Alberta.

Collins has pulled the eight B.C. wines she previously served from her menu.

"Wine is very political for me. It's not an attack on the wineries or the wine industry," Collins said. "It's an attack on their government."

On Tuesday, B.C. announced it would restrict any increase in diluted bitumen shipments from Alberta until it conducts further spill response studies.

The announcement places the $7.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in jeopardy.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau affirmed to CBC News the Kinder Morgan-owned pipeline from Edmonton to  suburban Vancouver will be expanded.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley also vowed to fight the restriction on new bitumen shipments, threatening economic and legal sanctions against B.C. Notley said Alberta will suspend talks on purchasing hydro electricity from B.C.

'They are creating a mockery out of our legal system,' says Rachel Notley 1:30

Collins is calling on other business to boycott B.C. products.

"It's a protest," Collins said. "I am hoping our little protest will have an impact."

Collins first shared her idea in a post on her restaurant's Facebook page, saying the business stands with oilsands workers and the local industry. 

On the streets of Fort McMurray, the B.C. announcement was making some nervous.

"The Alberta economy was finally finding its way back from the recession. Now it is going to drop," Hassan Shaikh said. "I don't find that's fair."

However, banning B.C. products should not be a first response, Shaikh said, suggesting Albertans take a more diplomatic route instead.

Follow David Thurton, CBC's Fort McMurray correspondent, on Facebook and Twitter, email him at david.thurton@cbc.ca

About the Author

David Thurton is a national reporter in CBC's Parliamentary Bureau. He's worked for CBC in Fort McMurray, the Maritimes and in Canada's Arctic.