Notley acting 'petty'

UPDATE: 3 p.m.

The leader of the BC Green Party, Andrew Weaver, says the premier of Alberta is being petty by banning the import of B.C. wines.

Following BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson's visit to Kelowna earlier Friday in response to the cross-border dispute, Weaver and Kelowna West byelection Green candidate Robert Stupka held a townhall meeting at West Kelowna's Volcanic Hills Winery.

Weaver supports B.C. Premier John Horgan's recent announcement that he's looking at ways to limit the import of diluted bitumen through B.C. until an expert panel can assess whether it's safe, the move that led to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley's B.C. wine embargo.

“This is a product that we do not know how to clean up,” Weaver said in reference to the diluted bitumen, referencing the Royal Society of Canada and the National Academy of Sciences.

“On the one hand we have a premier doing what he should be doing which is protecting the interest of British Columbians against a hypothetical project from a major multinational based in Texas and Ms. Notley's response is to stick it to B.C. wines.”

Weaver dismissed Wilkinson's comments from earlier in the day that B.C. would lose in court if the diluted bitumen issue is challenged constitutionally.

“Mr. Horgan is doing his due diligence, and Mr. Wilkinson frankly doesn't even know the file,” Weaver said. “His statements are just rhetorical political statements that aren't based on him spending any time on this file.”

– with files from Nich Johansen

ORIGINAL: 12:15 p.m.

The newly minted leader of the BC Liberals is taking dead aim at Premier John Horgan.

Opposition leader Andrew Wilkinson laid blame for the cross-border dispute between B.C. and Alberta directly at the feet of the premier.

The Alberta government has banned the import and sale of B.C. wine after the Horgan government announced it is looking at rules to limit any increase in the import of diluted bitumen until an independent panel can better analyze whether the system is safe.

Wilkinson, speaking at Sandhill Winery in Kelowna Friday morning, said Horgan has unnecessarily placed the $2.8-billion wine industry in the middle of a schoolyard fight that he picked.

"My suggestion is it's high time for John Horgan to swallow his pride, show his leadership, get on a plane to Edmonton and solve this problem, so the B.C. wine industry can look forward to an even brighter future than it's built up already," said Wilkinson.

"That applies to Rachel Notley as much as it applies to John Horgan. Unfortunately, we have a situation here where the BC NDP government has picked a fight, and now they realize they are going to have trouble getting out of it. "

Wilkinson says the dispute will likely lead to a constitutional challenge, one he says B.C. will likely lose in the courts. In the meantime, he says B.C.'s wine industry is losing out on a market worth about $70 million a year.

"This put a whole industry at risk. This is a major export market for B.C. wine that has now been cut off, and the people who will pay the price are workers in the B.C. wine industry, the winemakers, the vineyard operators, all the suppliers to the industry."

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