Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alberta Shrugs off B.C. Legal Challenge on Wine Ban, Says Much More at Stake

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alberta Shrugs off B.C. Legal Challenge on Wine Ban, Says Much More at Stake

Article excerpt

Alberta shrugs off B.C. trade challenge

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EDMONTON - 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.

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."

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. …

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