John Horgan responds to Alberta government's BC wine boycott

Feb 8 2018, 6:24 am

BC Premier John Horgan isn’t backing down when it comes to his government’s announced restrictions on bitumen transports – a move that will effectively stall the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

And on Wednesday, Horgan responded to the Alberta government’s announcement that it would halt the flow of BC wine into its province in response to the decision.

Speaking to reporters, Horgan said that his government’s focus “has been and will continue to be on affordability” for British Columbians.

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“I will not be distracted from that objective while the government of Alberta chooses to take retaliatory trade actions against our province,” he said. “We’ve chosen to talk to British Columbians about how we can protect BC’s interests.

The premier noted that he’s had discussions with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as well as with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and has “made it clear to both of them that the interests of British Columbia are my responsibility.”

However, he clarified, he and Notley have not spoken since the announcement was made on Tuesday.

“We spoke last week and I told her that I felt her reaction on the conversation was over-the-top,” he said. “Again, I understand and respect her passion for Alberta, but she also has to understand that BC is an equal partner in confederation.”

In an interesting turn of events, at the exact moment that Horgan was speaking on Wednesday, Notley was being interviewed by CBC Television on her perspective.

“[The BC government is] creating – probably intentionally – significant instability around a project that is very, very important to jobs and the economy across this country,” she said.

Asked about Notley’s claim that he was breaking the rules of the constitution, Horgan said he disagreed with that assessment.

Kinder Morgan is currently in court with respect to a pipeline and “until we get a resolution that is an open question,” said Horgan.

The court case, he furthered, “focuses on what we believe was a lack of due attention by the National Energy Board to the interests of British Columbia in making their determination.”

However, “when it comes to our rights and my rights as Premier to consult with British Columbia about putting in place protections for our environment and economy, I see no ground for the [Alberta] Premier to stand on.”

Horgan said his government has no plans for retaliatory action against Alberta’s decision to boycott BC wine.

“I have no intention of responding each day to events in other jurisdictions,” he said. “It is not the government’s intention to respond in any way to the provocation. We’re going to focus on issues that matter to British Columbians and hope that cooler heads on the other side of the Rockies will prevail.”

Horgan was also asked about his concern over the suggestion that the Alberta government may take further actions against BC and that this dispute could become a lengthy one.

“Certainly I would hope that we’ve seen the end of the back-and-forth,” he said. “I deliberately wasn’t available [to speak] yesterday, because I don’t believe it’s in anyone’s interest to have duelling premiers.”

Eric ZimmerEric Zimmer

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