No one wins in provincial trade war
wine. Premier John Horgan wanting to pump the breaks on shipment of Alberta bitumen to Burnaby through an expanded Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline, a $7.4 billion project.
Those being hurt the most are the little guy, those that run the wineries and vineyards and export $70 million worth of the fermented grape juice to Alberta on an annual basis.
The action has spawned letters from the Mayor of Fort St. John calling for cooler heads and for people to actually do some research on the oil and gas industry beyond following social media campaigns. There have been activist led campaigns and support for the move by Horgan and statements from politicians and analysts from across the country. can boycott in or from Alberta, absurdly dragging Camrose into the mess. If there is anything Left Coasters enjoy more than looking down their noses at Alberta, I have not found it yet.
Alberta is also having difficulty getting along with our neighbours to the east as well. This one caught me by surprise. Saskatchewan breweries are taking Alberta to court over tariffs on non Alberta microbrews, claiming it violates constitutional free trade among the provinces. This is old news. However, one of former Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall’s final moves in office was to build his own, uh, imaginary wall along the chalk line that is border and is prohibiting any Alberta license plates on a provincially funded job site. This means no Alberta contractors or labourers on anything being built by the province in Saskatchewan.
Good luck enforcing that in Lloydminster where half of the Alberta residents already exploit PO Box loopholes to get a green and yellow plate and lower insurance rates.
those caught in the crossfire are those who can least afford it, the contractors and labourers. This is over a couple of dollars a case of beer the Alberta microbrews are also taxed the same amount, but rebated to the brewery to encourage development. Micro breweries in Alberta have exploded in recent years due to this and similar taxation regulations were put in place for micro distilleries. that one may be more difficult. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is reportedly mediating the disagreement, but it will be interesting to see if he has the ability to take a stance on anything beyond progressive social issues and stick with it. Trudeau’s recently proposed overhaul of environmental assessment legislation is already being panned by both the left and the right.
What will not work is what has been described by some as an escalated tit for tat trade war. Even then there are only so many things that can legally be halted or taxed. It may eventually lead to a forced resolution, but at what cost? Small businesses on both sides will be hurt and interprovincial relations will continue to disintegrate.
I understand to a degree how we, as a province got here. Alberta been the country’s piggy bank for a generation or more. Even through an extended economic recession the province has paid out multi billion dollar equalization payments to other provinces that were already on the rebound. Many of those provinces have then had the gall to kick Alberta while it is down and at its most vulnerable and put up more road blocks to our recovery and economic sustainability. Our protectionist instincts have kicked in.
Increasingly aggressive moves, however, only encourage similar reactions and stalemates in negotiations.
I am used to some discontent among the provinces, but then it is usually a feeling of mutual anger towards Southern Ontario and Quebec. This Western division is something new.