Premier Rachel Notley announces halt to B.C. wine imports into Alberta

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      The battle over Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain expansion project is being felt in B.C. wine country.

      That's because Alberta premier Rachel Notley has announced a ban on wine imports from her western neighbour.

      It came in response to a B.C. government plan to develop regulations to protect the environment from oil spills.

      According to Notley, Albertans spend about $70 million per year on B.C. wines.

      The B.C. government will appoint an independent scientific advisory panel to recommend how heavy oils can be transported safely.

      B.C. also plans to limit how much diluted bitumen can can transported until there is greater understanding about how this product behaves when it's released into the environment.

      "We're working for people," B.C. premier John Horgan said in a statement. "As part of that work, our government has every right to consult with British Columbians on the best possible measures to protect our lands and waters from the potential impacts of diluted bitumen spills.

      "If Alberta disagrees they can make that arguement in the proper venue, in our court system," Horgan continued. "Our consultation on proposed new regulations hasn't even begun, but Alberta has seen fit to take measures to impact B.C. businesses."

      He also promised to stand with B.C. wine producers and respond to the "unfair trade actions".

      Notley, however, has insisted that this action by the B.C. government is unconstitutional.

      Watch Alberta premier Rachel Notley's statement to reporters.

      The Alberta premier has repeatedly maintained that the federal government has sole jurisdiction over the approval pipelines that cross provincial borders. And the Liberal government under Justin Trudeau has already given the green light to the Trans Mountain expansion project.

      Alberta has also suspended talks with B.C. over the purchase of electricity from B.C. Hydro. 

      Notley claimed last week that the refusal to purchase power could cost the B.C. government-owned utility up to $500 million annually in lost revenue.

      The Alberta boycott of B.C. wine was announced on the first day of advance voting in the Kelowna West by-election.

      The B.C. Liberal candidate, Ben Stewart, is the founder of Quail's Gate Estate Winery, which is one of major players in the Okanagan wine industry.

      In the meantime, Notley's move is generating a fair amount of chatter over social media.

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