Alberta shrugs off B.C. legal challenge on wine ban, says much more at stake

EDMONTON — Alberta’s economic development minister is shrugging off a legal challenge filed by British Columbia over Alberta’s ban on wine from that province.

On Monday, B.C. announced it is invoking dispute settlement of the wine ban under Canada’s free-trade agreement.

The mechanism calls for four months of consultation and, if that doesn’t work, an arbitration panel takes over.

Deron Bilous says Alberta won’t participate in consultations unless B.C. reverses its decision to refuse additional oil from Alberta while it studies spill safety.

It’s a move Alberta says could effectively kill expansion of Kinder Morgan Canada’s Trans Mountain pipeline.

Alberta faces a maximum fine of $5 million if it is found to have violated Canadian trade rules.

Bilous says that’s a pittance compared with the billions of dollars and thousands of jobs Canada is losing because of the lack of pipeline access.

Alberta’s crude oil sells at a sharp discount on the North American market due to pipeline bottlenecks and to a lack of access to a better price on overseas markets.

(Companies in this story: TSX: KML)

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