KAMLOOPS — The first time I read about the boycott of B.C. wines, the thought that came to mind was that no one will think it a good idea. A restaurant owner in Fort McMurray had decided to ban wines produced in British Columbia as a way to support the oil workers. It seemed like an emotional response, an automatic response of the kind kids would have after a dispute.
I read and shook my head; it did not make any sense. It seemed childish, targeting the wrong crowd (not that there should ever be a suitable crowd to ‘target’ – a highly subversive move by anyone, we can all agree). It seemed absurd since the restaurant owner herself, a small business owner, would know the unfairness of making the little guys pay for political disagreements at provincial level.
Somehow though, the news of the boycott must’ve reached the Alberta premier, who, unlike many others, thought it was a brilliant idea and as a result, expanded it to the whole province, thus creating a situation that saw people from B.C. and Alberta pitted against each other. How unCanadian, many have said since. Indeed, come what may, sticking together works better than being divided.
As it stands right now, the wine import is supposed to cease on February 15. The value of B.C. wine exports to Alberta hovered at around $70-million last year, nothing to sneeze at. One would expect nothing less this year, possibly more so since some of the last year’s crops got smoked during the massive wildfires, an element that was said by many to add some panache to the regular fare. Never mind that though, a pipeline and its associated tanker traffic are getting in the way. All of this is bad news for our wineries.
On the other hand, support is pouring in from all corners of the province. Many people went and bought a couple of extra bottles of wine, plus other provinces, such as Quebec, for example, are signing up for more B.C. wine. It’s not charity. Those who are buying local wines at the farmer’s market or occasionally go to one of the local wineries for dinner and a glass of wine, can attest that the taste of B.C. wines is not one that invites to acts of charity. On the contrary.
I read about Premier Notley’s appreciation of our wines, which now she will no longer consume, as retaliation for our premier’s refusal to allow an increased tanker traffic on the coast of B.C. until a satisfactory cover-all-bases type of risk assessment is in place. The CEO of Kinder Morgan found himself in the same situation; apparently, he finds B.C. wine excellent but regretfully, can no longer enjoy it due to pipeline wars. Sadly, in the end, it will not be the big guys who will suffer from this. There are businesses in Alberta that are hurt by this decision as much as many of the B.C. wine producers are.
Our premier’s sin, in this case, is standing up for what is right. A potential spill could affect the coast for a long time, and the people who live there know that. If you search for news on ocean health, and specifically for our West coast, it will not be an empty page. People in Ucluelet for example, are dealing with an increased amount of garbage brought over to pristine beaches by ocean currents. A small challenge, some could argue, compared to a massive oil spill.
Open-net fish farms along the coast (and yes, our premier will have to deal with this issue soon enough, if standing for what’s right is what he does) are wreaking havoc with the wild species of salmon, causing their numbers to plummet, a new low each year, and spreading disease among the wild stock. Then, there’s climate change which brings a myriad issue with it. Remember the vanishing disease the sea stars faced just a while ago, which was said to be caused by a virus which normally sea stars would defend themselves against, but warmer waters make that a lot harder to the point of these animals being affected en masse.
To allow a situation that could degenerate into something severely debilitating and long-lasting on top of everything else already unraveling along the B.C. coast, that would irresponsible. If there is a way to bring the highest level of safety into it, it’s only expected that our leaders will find it. If this causes retaliation of the kind that sees a wine boycott implemented at a provincial level, we can only hope that the federal government will bring things back to the discussion table where concerns can be heard, and possible risks assessed in a mature way. It could be concluded with a toast of B.C. wine, as a way to show that punishing of anyone who is not even remotely connected to the issue is not how we deal with challenges in Canada.