Constitutional battles now brewing over wine boycott

Notley said she felt Horgan had blinked but some say the blink was kind of squinty-eyed. Federal officials have been meeting with their B.C. counterparts and Notley has promised further retaliatory measures if there is no progress on resolving the impasse.

But Kenney said Alberta needs to keep up the pressure on B.C. Premier John Horgan as he attempts to sidetrack the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, a $7.4-billion project that will triple the amount of oil moving from Alberta to the Pacific coast.

The B.C. Wine Institute is challenging the constitutionality of the ban announced by Premier Rachel Notley on February 6, and imposed by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission.

And a recent Angus Reid poll has found 50 per cent of the country supports B.C.'s to the pipeline project, while the other 50 per cent favours the Alberta government's side.

"For whatever government not to do something would show 'hey, we're going to let wineries just be collateral damage in our disagreement with (Alberta)", Ocenas said.

"We sell thousands of cases into Alberta and we are a small family-run operation, so not being able to sell or fulfill orders is critical to our business", she said.

The constitutional rights and freedoms watchdog, Canadian Constitution Foundation, is also challenging the wine boycott. And, unless he dropped his "needless threat", she would exact more pain on the B.C. economy.

Premier Horgan said his government will be retaining expert legal counsel to ready a reference to the courts on four safeguards including spill response time, geographic response plans, compensation for loss of public and cultural use of land and application of regulations to marine spills.

"The B.C. government is now trying to break the rules of Confederation and ignore the national climate plan, choosing to agree with only parts of the federal decision".

"We are prepared to confirm that right in the courts".

To that end, Horgan is assembling a legal team to ask the courts if B.C. has the jurisdictional grounds to limit inter-provincial trade of commodities such as crude oil - something the Alberta and federal governments both dispute.

The ban is "unconstitutional", said McWatters-Bond.

"This is not about politics, this is not about trade", Horgan said in a brief media availability at the legislature in Victoria.

"We believe it is our right to take appropriate measures to protect our environment, economy and our coast from the drastic effect of a diluted bitumen spill", Horgan said.

The division among Trudeau's own voters suggests that the prime minister's backing of the pipeline might have a political cost. Over the weekend, Horgan's government announced it will challenge that decision in the Federal Court.

"It didn't really make a lot of sense to us", Howell said. "Actions that threaten an entire industry and the livelihoods of the people who depend on it".

  • Tracy Klein