Alberta government lifts ban on B.C. wine

Trade war continues despite Alberta's ban on B.C. wine being lifted

Despite the wine ban only lasting two weeks, the perception of B.C. wine in Alberta may change. (Juan Cabrejo/The Omega)

Last week, Premier John Horgan announced he would be making an inquiry with the courts about the legality of restricting diluted bitumen in the Trans Mountain pipeline, which was to be the fifth point and most controversial, of his government’s environmental protection plan.

Though Horgan appeared to be softening his stance by leaving part of the dispute in the hands of the court, he affirmed that his government would continue with the plan’s first four points, which he believes is within B.C.’s jurisdictional power. Soon after this announcement, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley lifted the ban on imports of B.C. wine in response to the news.

The ban on B.C. wine lasted for two weeks after much back and forth between the B.C. and Alta. provincial governments. The initial announcement of the ban by Notley on Feb. 6 left many B.C. wineries feeling upset.

Ashley Demedeiros the marketing and sales coordinator for Monte Creek Ranch Winery said that she was sad when she first heard the news.

“We were very shocked and disappointed,” Demedeiros said. “This is pitting Canadians against Canadian, and we should be working together to create a strong economy for Western Canada and Canada as a whole. It’s quite disappointing and disheartening to have this happening.”

According to a poll done by the Vancouver Sun in Feb. of 2018, 46.61 per cent (2,443 votes) of readers agreed with Alberta’s retaliation boycott of B.C. wine and 53.39 per cent (2,133 votes) thought the dispute should be settled in court.

Ehsan Latif a professor and chair for the Department of Economics at TRU said that one big concern with a trade dispute between provinces, is the long-term impact on the economy and the industry itself.

“The short-term impact is that [B.C. wineries] stop selling which has an impact on employment and production. But there may be long-term impact which means that the Alberta may have a different picture of B.C. wine. They would have to import from other sources and Albertan consumers could become used to wine from other countries or from other provinces,” Latif said.

Demedeiros adds that sales to Alberta alone made up six per cent of their revenue in 2017.

“We’ve been successfully selling wine in Alberta since July of 2016,” Demedeiros said. “Alberta is an important market for B.C. wine and B.C. tourism as well.”

B.C. amounts to 95 per cent of Canadian wine that is sold in Alberta liquor stores. In 2017 this amounted to 17.2 million bottles of wine and $70 million paid to B.C. wineries.

Although the ban is over now, some people are left to wonder for how long or what’s next.