Speaking on the growing trade war with Alberta this afternoon, B.C. Premier John Horgan says he “will not be distracted” by the neighboring province’s “retaliatory” moves.
On Tuesday, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced her province was banning wine imports from B.C., effective immediately.
The British Columbia government is creating more uncertainty around Kinder Morgan Inc.’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project with a proposal to restrict any increase in diluted bitumen shipments until it conducts more spill response studies.
Provincial Environment Minister George Heyman says there needs to be more confidence in how well oil transporters are prepared to respond and mitigate the effects of a potential spill.
“It’s clear from our perspective that there is a tremendous risk to our economy and our environment from a spill of diluted bitumen,” Heyman told CBC News.
“British Columbians expect us to defend our coastline, our waterways in the interior of the province, and our economic and environment interests overall,” he said.
But Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is slamming the B.C. proposal, calling it unconstitutional.
“I’m not responding in any way other than saying I’ll defend our wine industry. I’m here for B.C., not for Alberta,” he said.
“I’ve spoken with the prime minister and the premier of Alberta. I’ve made it clear to both that the interests of British Columbians are my priority, nor will I be distracted by the events happening in other jurisdictions.”
“I don’t think it’s in anyone’s interest to have dueling premiers,” he added. “Cooler heads on the other side of the Rockies will prevail.”
Last week, Horgan’s NDP government announced it is looking at rules to limit any increase in the import of diluted bitumen (One of the types of crude oil derived from the Canadian oil sands is bitumen, a heavy, sour oil. Bitumen would not flow through a pipeline efficiently, so it is mixed with diluents to be readied for pipeline transportation as diluted bitumen, or ‘dilbit.’ Diluents are usually natural gas condensate, naphtha or a mix of other light hydrocarbons. ) until an independent panel can better analyze whether the system is safe and can adequately deal with a spill disaster — a move that could delay construction on the federally-approved Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project.
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On Wednesday, Horgan said he’s within his rights to consult with the people of B.C.
“I understand her passion for Alberta [but] I see no ground for the premier to stand on [in arguing otherwise],” he said.
Notley said the wine boycott “is one good step to waking B.C. up to the fact that they can’t attack our industry without a response.”
“This action will harm the B.C. wine industry,” she said. “Alberta will not stand by and be the only province impacted by another province’s refusal to play by the rules.”
In 2017, Alberta imported 17.2 million bottles of B.C. wine with an estimated value of $70 million — the equivalent of about 1.4 million cases.