The B.C. government notified Alberta that it is formally requesting consultations under the Canadian free trade agreement’s dispute settlement process in reaction to Alberta’s ban on its wines. (Photo by The Canadian Press)

Alberta shrugs off B.C. legal challenge on wine ban

The potential fine Alberta faces for violating free trade rules according to economic development minister

The full costs of the action can be charged to the losing province and if the province doesn’t fix the problem within the time set out by the panel, it can be fined up to $10 million.

Alberta’s economic development minister is shrugging off a legal challenge filed by British Columbia over Alberta’s ban on B.C. wine.

Deron Bilous says the potential fine Alberta faces for violating free trade rules is a pittance when set against the stakes of the Trans Mountain pipeline issue.

“Let’s compare the (maximum) $5 million in a fine versus the billions of dollars of investment and the thousands of jobs,” Bilous told reporters at the legislature Tuesday.

“We know what our priority is, and that’s getting this pipeline built.”

The actual maximum fine is $10 million.

RELATED: B.C. winemakers shackled by NDP MPs

B.C. upped the ante Monday in its cross-boundary trade dispute with Alberta, by invoking the dispute settlement process over the wine ban under Canada’s free-trade agreement.

Under the agreement, the two sides have four months to resolve the dispute before an arbitration panel kicks in.

Bilous said Alberta won’t even come to the table unless B.C. reverses its decision to refuse additional oil from Alberta while it studies spill safety.

“B.C. has really one option, and that is for them to smarten up (and) realize that what they’re doing is unconstitutional,” said Bilous.

“A province cannot dictate what goes in a pipeline. That is a federal jurisdiction.

“They need to acknowledge that, recognize it and ensure that this pipeline moves forward.”

RELATED: B.C. files challenge to Alberta wine trade ban

The wine ban, imposed Feb. 6 by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, affects $70 million worth of wine from B.C. a year — about 17 million bottles.

The dispute began three weeks ago, when B.C. Premier John Horgan’s government announced it would not take additional levels of crude from Alberta until it could be sure there are measures in place to handle spill safety.

RELATED: Notley uncorks B.C. support for wine ban

Horgan’s government has been fighting the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline — which got the green light from the federal government in late 2016 — and Notley’s government views the move as a back door way to kill the project by strangling its financial viability.

Notley and Bilous have said the Trans Mountain expansion is critical because Alberta’s crude oil sells at a sharp discount on the North American market due to pipeline bottlenecks and to a lack of access to a better price on overseas markets.

“The cost to the Canadian economy is significant,” said Bilous.

“We have one buyer, which is the U.S., (and) the differential is somewhere around $30 (US a barrel). We’ve lost out on billions of dollars.”

The Trans Mountain expansion would triple the amount of oil shipped from Alberta to a terminal in Burnaby.

The $7.4-billion Kinder Morgan Canada project has faced delays despite the federal approval.

In December, the National Energy Board stepped in to announce it would allow Kinder Morgan to bypass permit delays in Burnaby. Over the weekend, Horgan’s government announced it will challenge that decision in the Federal Court.

RELATED: National Energy Board issues new approvals for Trans Mountain pipeline

Along with the wine ban, Notley has also retaliated by scuttling talks to buy $500 million worth of electricity from B.C. She has also struck a 19-member task force of politicians, academics, finance and business leaders to find other ways to put pressure on B.C.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has made it clear the project will go ahead and that Ottawa has the final say on pipelines. Federal officials have been meeting with their B.C. counterparts and Notley has promised further retaliatory measures this week if there is no progress on resolving the impasse.

(Companies in this story: TSX: KML)

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The iconic and well-loved live music venue Logan’s is permanently closing its doors due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Google Maps)
Fernwood pub Logan’s permanently closing its doors

Live music venue unable to weather COVID-19 storm

The Starbucks at 3849 Cadboro Bay Rd. closed permanently on Sunday, Oct. 25. (Google Maps)
Cadboro Bay Starbucks closes despite petition signed by nearly 250 residents

Closure part of transition to more drive-thru locations, Starbucks spokesperson says

Shawn Magnus of Sidney Courier has partnered with Sidney Business Improvement Area Society for free commercial delivery for society members. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney business association partners with courier for free commercial delivery

Service started Oct. 26 and extends to a radius of 35 kilometres

Victoria police are searching for a suspect after a stabbing Monday night. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police searching for suspect in late-night stabbing

Victim taken to hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries

Struggling to afford rent, Sylvia Bailey is hoping to trade her love of cooking for some more affordable accommodation. (Photo courtesy of Sylvia Bailey)
Retired Victoria woman looking to cook, clean or garden in exchange for rent

Sylvia Bailey is hoping to use her love for cooking to help afford rent

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

A picture of John taken at Children’s Hospital Vancouver last week. Photo courtesy, Alicia Sewid.
RCMP investigating after young boy run over by SUV in Campbell River parking lot

The seven-year-old has multiple injuries including a broken pelvis and was admitted to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

A video message from Mrime Minister Justin Trudeau was streamed to attendees at the State of the Island Economic Summit on Tuesday morning. (Vancouver Island Economic Alliance image)
Prime minister greets Vancouver Island economic summit attendees

Vancouver Island Economic Alliance conference being held virtually this week

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

Most Read