ELECTION 2015: Q&A – What steps would you take to support the wine industry?

This is the fourth of a six-part Q&A with the South Okanagan-West Kootenay
candidates.

  • Sep. 29, 2015 8:00 a.m.

What steps would you take to support the wine industry?

 

Richard Cannings – NDP

The wine industry not only provides over 1,500 direct jobs, but wine tourism gives a huge boost to tourism businesses in the Okanagan so we must support this growing industry. I would support the wine industry in three ways: sustaining grape growing research and innovation through stable funding to the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre (PARC) in Summerland, supporting the expansion of wine sales to provincial markets, and funding programs that will grow wine tourism in the U.S. and international markets.

First, research is tremendously important to promote innovative and competitive viticulture practices. The Conservative government has eroded funding to PARC over the years and I would make it a priority to see that stable funding is available to support wine industry research. As well as the “Growing Forward” funding, I would like to see additional emergency funding to deal with serious diseases and pests such as the spotted-wing drosophila. We must also support the BC Wine Grape Council Sustainable Wine program so vineyards can adopt sustainable practices benefiting the environment and product quality.

Equally important is improving access to markets in Alberta and other provinces. Although we have new federal legislation allowing interprovincial wine shipments, there are still restrictive provincial regulations. I would work with the provinces to ease these restrictions that inhibit increased sales within Canada.

Lastly, wine tourism is a huge spinoff industry. The NDP will support the tourism industry’s “Connecting America” program to support the Canadian Vintners Association’s goal to grow winery visitors.

 

Connie Denesiuk – Liberal

It has been interesting to watch the rise of the wine industry over the past three decades.  I remember when Casabello was the only local winery.

There are now more than 130 wineries in the Okanagan Valley, with vineyards covering over 8,000 acres.  We are now the second largest wine producing region in Canada.  Wine Enthusiast Magazine identified the Okanagan as a “shining jewel” and one of its top 10 travel destinations.

During my term as vice chair of the Okanagan College Board of Governors, the College partnered with the B.C. Wine Information Society to open the Wine Sensory Centre on the Penticton campus in 2014 – the regions first education facility of its kind.

Last fall I attended Canada’s first Wine Tourism Summit organized by Allison Markin.

Allison identified ways that governments can get behind this important industry.  Wine tourists generally seek other experiences to go along with their enjoyment of our fine wines, such as cycling, hiking and tours.

I will advocate for resources to help support a regional strategy and marketing.

Shipping wine across provincial borders continues to be a frustration for our local wineries, as several provinces not yet living up to the intentions of bill C-311.  I will advocate for the opening of all provincial borders, for free movement of Canadian wine.

On a personal note – I have had the opportunity to enjoy local wines while visiting Germany, Italy, New Zealand and South Africa – but my favourite wines are those made right here in the South Okanagan!

 

Brian Gray, Independent

The first idea that came to my mind on how to support the Okanagan Valley wine industry was to joyfully do my part by drinking more of the great locally produced reds … in moderation of course.

I have directed my attention to other issues and problems facing our country and globe. In the brief discussions I have had with people involved in the industry, the re-occuring concern that is cited as the major impediment to the deserved growth of this vibrant local industry is the lack of communication between the federal and provincial governments. What else is new?

There appears to be no co-ordinated effort on the part of either branch of government to sit down and craft a policy to allow for the marketing and sale of wines inter-provincially. This is quite dumbfounding, after all this is not some international trade agreement. This is not rocket science.

The steps I would take, if given the opportunity, would be to convene those provincial and federal government employees with the authority to make decisions on this matter, lock them in a room, get pizza delivered, allow only restroom breaks and don’t let them go home until a equitable deal is struck.

I look forward to the day when a fellow Canadian somewhere in the Maritimes can enjoy one of our great locally produced reds … in moderation of course.

 

Marshall Neufed, Conservative

The Okanagan produces some of the best wines. People come from all over the world to visit our beautiful vineyards and taste our award-winning wines. Our local winemakers take pride in their product because it is of the highest quality.

I want to see the wine industry flourish even more and I will support local vintners. The Conservative government is supporting the wine industry through direct funding such as this year’s $630,000 investment for UBC Okanagan to partner with B.C.’s wine industry to help in exports and marketing internationally.

Conservative MPs Dan Albas and Ron Cannan have advocated for “Free My Grapes” legislation, which now allows the free transportation of wine across provincial borders.

However, some provincial barriers still remain.

If elected I will work with my Okanagan colleagues to encourage the removal of the remaining provincial barriers and advocate for the continued removal of tariffs on Canadian wines internationally.  The Conservative government recently achieved the removal of all tariffs for Canadian wine sold in South Korea.  More agreements like this need to be achieved.

I feel it is important to work with the local industry and help empower them to continue marketing our wines.  An example of this is how Terroir BC and the BC Wine Institute partnered with the Canadian High Commission in London to increase our market share in the UK.  Work like this should continue and should expand to other Canadian Embassies around the world.

 

Samantha Troy, Green Party

As your MP I would work to ensure that our world-renowned wine industry stays vibrant and sustainable into the future.

I will work to enact “Think Small First” legislation to ensure that new federal laws and regulations enhance, rather than hinder, an economic environment where local businesses and entrepreneurs can thrive.

The Green Party will create federally-funded $1 billion per year Green Technology Commercialization grants to accelerate emerging technologies to give our entrepreneurial farmers and winemakers a head start.

These are just some of the initiatives which will stimulate and promote community-supported agriculture, small-scale farms and producers, and the wineries and microbreweries that Canadians love.

 

Editor’s note — Doug Pederson, Independent, informed the Western News he will not be running as he could not meet the Elections Canada requirement for 100 signatures from eligible voters to officially become a candidate.

 

 

 

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