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Alberta uncorks wine

UPDATE: 4:15 p.m.

The Alberta government has accepted an olive branch from British Columbia and is suspending its ban on the province's wine in an ongoing dispute over the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley took the step after B.C.'s John Horgan said his government will ask the courts if it has the right to protect its environment by restricting diluted bitumen in the pipeline.

In the meantime, Premier John Horgan says the province will not proceed with proposed regulatory restrictions on the increase of diluted bitumen transportation through the province.

Horgan says his government is filing a constitutional reference case on the issue, which has been at the centre of the heated dispute between B.C. and Alberta.

He says the federal government declined an invitation to join the province in the reference question.

Horgan denies the province is backing down in the dispute, saying the intention is to have cooler heads prevail.


ORIGINAL: 3:15 p.m.

The British Columbia government will ask the courts if it has the right to protect its environment by restricting diluted bitumen in the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Premier John Horgan says his government is filing a constitutional reference case on the issue, which has been at the centre of a heated dispute between B.C. and Alberta.

He says the federal government declined an invitation to join the province in the reference question.

Horgan denied that the province was backing down in the dispute, saying the intention is to have cooler heads prevail.

He says he wants B.C. and Alberta to be good neighbours, but the rest of Canada needs to know how strongly British Columbia feels about protecting its coastline.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley recently imposed a ban on B.C. wine in retaliation for a pledge last month by Horgan to reject increased levels of oil through the Trans Mountain pipeline until the province reviews spill safety measures.

The B.C. New Democrat government is against expansion of the Kinder Morgan Canada pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby, although it has already been approved by the federal government.

Alberta sees Horgan's actions as an illegal way to kill the expansion.

Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have made it clear that only Ottawa, not the provinces, has the authority to decide what goes in trans-boundary pipelines.

Federal officials have been meeting with their B.C. counterparts to find a solution to the impasse. Notley, who has also scuttled talks to buy B.C. electricity, says she will take further retaliatory action if there is no progress in the talks.

Horgan said his efforts to safeguard B.C.'s interests have generated a disproportionate reaction from Alberta.

"The actions by the Alberta government threaten an entire industry and the livelihoods of people who depend on it," he said. "We have taken steps to protect our wine industry from the unwarranted trade action by the government of Alberta."



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