BC to challenge Alberta wine ban

The government of British Columbia (BC) is planning to challenge the recent ban on its wines by neighbouring province Alberta, saying it contradicts the country’s free-trade pact.

As reported earlier this month, Alberta moved to boycott all imports of BC wines earlier this month as an argument over a new oil pipeline between the two western provinces escalated into a trade war.

BC is currently blocking the construction of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion which Alberta views as vital for its economy and job creation so the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission was ordered, on 6 February, to halt all imports of BC wines, indefinitely.

Now BC says it will seek consultation under the Canadian Free Trade Agreement’s dispute settlement process in an effort to get round the ban.

Miles Prodan, president of the British Columbia Wine Institute (BCWI), said in a statement: “The BC Wine Institute is grateful for the BC government’s continued efforts in resolving the unfair ban of BC wines.

“We are hopeful for a favourable result. However, given the lengthy process that a challenge through the Canadian Free Trade Agreement’s dispute settlement process will take, we continue to ask the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission to lift the unfair ban and allow the free trade of BC wines into Alberta.”

Meanwhile, the BC agricultural minister, Lana Popham, has declared that April is to be ‘BC Wine Month’ and the government will help smaller producers get their wines onto the shelves of the provincial monopoly’s stores.

During April BC Liquor stores will host a number of in-store tastings of local wines an the government is reportedly prepared to allocate more funding to market BC VQA wines in export markets.

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