Douglas P. Welbanks: The politics of anger

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      Woke up this morning to catch a pundit’s response to Alberta’s ban on B.C. wine and ended up being disappointed.

      Any time any government embraces anger to draft public policy to punish innocent bystanders in retaliation for a political disagreement with other governments or political foes, the outcome will not be good for anyone.

      Alberta further personalized the dispute by identifying Premier John Horgan as the problem rather than respecting the differing but no less intense political environment from Alberta’s oil landscape, in which the B.C. NDP rows its boat with four oars ready to pull out of the water if environmental issues are ignored.

      Instead, Alberta’s premier, Rachel Notley, declared economic war against tax-paying entrepreneurs, family businesses, merchants, and retailers—or more specifically, wineries and the years of production and marketing spent to find consumers for its high-quality products.

      Basically, Alberta has attacked the economic backbone of liberal democracies—small and medium-sized businesses.

      Talking about B.C.’s retaliation to Alberta misses the ultimate role of public policy, which is to serve and protect the public interest.

      The B.C. government should look at fulfilling the contracts B.C. wineries have with Alberta’s restaurants and retailers, i.e. buying the B.C. wine affected by this angry outburst of narrow-minded politics—and assist the B.C. wineries in finding new markets. That way, the zeal for punishment falls off the table of options.

      Whatever merits Alberta’s claims had for a pipeline to the west coast before this political tantrum burst into public policy have been weakened by this juvenile approach to problem solving.

      An informed public understands the conundrum on both sides of the provincial borders. However it’s very difficult to watch anger and disagreement transformed into economic weapons designed to inflict pain and win arguments.

      Douglas P. Welbanks is a former director of debtor assistance and debt collection for the B.C. government and the author of several books, including Unbreakable: The Ujjal Dosanjh Story and Julius Seizure: The Secret World of Bankruptcy, Debt Collection and Student Loans.