Trending in Business: Restrictions on Wine & Bitumen in BC and Alberta

By Grant T. Smith

businessThis morning, as I was enjoying breakfast with Joanne, we started to chat about the ongoing battle of BC and Alberta. (While I wish that referred to a race to the top between the Oilers and the Canucks, I will sadly not write that story this year.)


Some of my friends on Facebook have taken swipes at both sides on this debate, one side claiming that Alberta is way offside in restricting wine imports, and the other side arguing that BC should get a move on and allow the construction on the pipeline under discussion.  


This article is not really going to be about the potential pipeline, for my readers will know that, while a strong proponent of progressive change, I am also pro responsible development and support this project.


No, today, I propose to discuss irrational actors, or those people who take a stand that subordinates the interests of all the participants in favour of actions that have no basis.  


The actions taken by the government of British Columbia were not part of a process of discussion and thoughtful participation, but were instead pandering to their partisan voters. They were showboating by any standard. They could have asked to discuss considerations with all parties to the potential pipeline and raised legitimate concerns. Instead they blocked progress, dialogue and good governance by restricting expanded bitumen shipments from Alberta, out of hand.  


Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, then responded with a balanced, thoughtful response aimed to cool the rhetoric and generate a productive discussion. Sorry, wait – that was a dream. A pipeline dream, as it were. She abandoned all rational thought and started a trade war by banning the import of BC wine.  (Said one BC wino, “Hiccough, more for me!”)  


The problem here is that both parties have elevated the rhetoric to anger, with harsh words spat across borders instead of clarity and strategy shared in boardrooms. I suppose that is the current nature of political discourse but I lament it.


I took comfort from the letter written by the President of Kinder Morgan, Ian Anderson: “I hope that you will consider the severity and consequence of the actions your minister has proposed and that you will accept my offer to meet with you to discuss these and any other matters relating to the operations of our company in British Columbia.”



He wants to discuss solutions, clearly not a politician.