Cautious optimism on lifted wine ban at B.C. Wine Institute

The B.C. wine advocates say they are conferring with lawyers and members on next steps

By Brennan Phillips

Special to the Western News

B.C.’s wine advocacy group says it’s cautiously optimistic about the tentative end to Alberta’s B.C. wine ban.

Just as quickly as it was put in place, one of Alberta’s weapons in the ongoing inter-provincial dispute over the TransMountain Pipeline has been returned to its holster, at least for the moment, as the B.C. government puts its challenge on oil bitumen to the courts.

The B.C. Wine Institute, while pleased with the lifting of the ban, said it is still concerned over the ease and swiftness with which it was put in place. They expressed their worries over the fact the ban had been put in place in retaliation for an unrelated dispute.

Related: B.C. Wine Institute to take legal action against Alberta

“Over the course of the next few days, we will confer with legal counsel and our members to determine our path forward,” B.C. Wine Institute CEO Miles Prodan said in a statement. “We are, however, thrilled that Alberta consumers once again have the choice to purchase and enjoy B.C. wines, as they have long done.”

The day after the B.C. Wine Institute informed the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commision it would be pursuing legal recourse over their ban on B.C. wines — following the B.C. government’s own filing of a complaint under the Canadian Free Trade Agreement — Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced the end of the ban.

The Alberta premier did not say the ban would be permanently lifted, reserving the right to bring it back into force once more, depending on what happens with the pipeline dispute.

Related: B.C. to refer Alberta crude restriction to court

The ban, initially filed as retaliation for the B.C. NDP government’s stance on the TransMountain pipeline, prevented the AGLC from purchasing any wines produced in B.C. The Alberta premier cited the B.C. government’s decision to seek a constitutional reference case over their right to dictate restrictions over what flows through pipelines in B.C. as the reason for lifting the wine ban.

The fate of the pipeline remains a point of bitter contention between the Alberta and B.C. governments, and it is unlikely to see a resolution any time soon.

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