BC Premier John Horgan is in a war of words with Alberta premier Rachel Notley over pipeline politics. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Shypitka reacts to Alberta wine boycott

Kootenay East MLA says BC government irresponsible for playing pipeline politics.

  • Feb. 8, 2018 12:00 a.m.

A war of words between the premiers of BC and Alberta have escalated over the last few days as John Horgan and Rachel Notley trade barbs over pipeline politics.

The spat started a few days ago when Notley issued a boycott of BC wine after the BC provincial government announced plans to restrict shipments of diluted bitumen from Alberta to BC until more oil response studies are completed.

At issue is the BC government’s unwillingness to allow the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, with a route running from Edmonton and cutting southwest through BC until ending in the Lower Mainland, where it will be shipped by tanker across the Pacific.

However, the project already has federal approval from the Trudeau Liberals.

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka, who serves as the provincial opposition critic for Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, said the BC NDP’s decision to delay the pipeline with further studies is irresponsible.

“If it wasn’t so costly to British Columbians, it’d be hilarious,” Shypitka said. “You’ve seen the BC NDP battling the Alberta NDP over oil and transportation of that oil and it’s bizarre to think that the premier of Alberta is actually looking out for British Columbians more than our own premier here in BC is.”

Shypitka took aim at ‘special interest groups’ for intimidation tactics around pipeline politics.

“I’ve seen death threats over these things; it’s incredible,” he said. “You can’t allow that to happen.”

Shypitka defended the resource development industry and also took aim at BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver for his opposition to Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) development, calling it a cleaner source of electricity than carbon-emitting coal-fired plants in Asia.

“In the case of LNG, we talk about a green leader in Andrew Weaver who talks about having to reduce our carbon emissions and we can’t possibly meet our carbon commitment if LNG goes through,” Shypitka said.

“And that’s probably true, however, the bigger picture is globally, and if we can get these countries in Asia off of coal fired energy, then isn’t that what it’s really all about? If we can reduce the carbon emissions globally, then we’ve done our work.”

Notley’s edict to boycott BC wine was decried by the BC Wine Institute, which noted that 30 per cent of all wine sold in Alberta is from BC, which carries a retail value of $160 million.

“We are disappointed that this political decision is threatening our progress and threatening the successes that have benefited small businesses in both the Alberta and BC economies,” said BCWI president Miles Prodan, in a press release.

There were fears the dispute could escalate after BC agriculture minister Lana Popham made veiled comments about retaliating against Alberta beef, however, that was quashed by Horgan.