Wine industry hits back

The BC Wine Institute has officially fired back against Alberta's wine boycott, challenging the constitutionality of the ban. 

The Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission received written notice from the institute Wednesday, declaring action against the Feb. 6 ban on all B.C. wine imports to Alberta.

Miles Prodan, president and CEO of the BC Wine Institute, said the issue highlights the importance of free trade between provinces.

"We believe it is unconstitutional to prohibit the import of Canadian goods into another province based solely on where they come from. All Canadians should be concerned, because if wine can be prohibited based on its province of origin, so can any product from any other province,” Prodan said. 

There are 276 wineries and 923 grape growers in the B.C. wine industry, and they employ over 12,000 people.

In a press release Wednesday, the institute called for free interprovincial trade between provinces across Canada, claiming current standards allowed them to be "unfairly" targeted by provincial governments for political reasons. 

This particular ban hits home for B.C. wineries, due to the importance of Alberta tourism on the industry. One million tourists visited B.C. wineries in 2015, according to an industry study, generating $452 million for the provincial economy.

"The B.C. wine industry has always had a strong and positive relationship with Albertans. Many visit our wineries each year and our wines have long been appreciated by consumers," Prodan said.

"Our provinces share a long history of collaboration, strong economic ties, resilience, and pride for the products we grow. Because of the ban, that friendship is being tested.”

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