Across multiple time zones in Canada, and from as far away as San Francisco, climate hawks responded to Alberta’s boycott of British Columbia wines this week with a “buycott” that boosted sales of the embattled product and showed support for B.C.’s latest environmental assessment of the controversial Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley called  the boycott Tuesday. By Wednesday afternoon, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario outlet at 111 Albert St. in downtown Ottawa had run out of B.C. wine, and Facebook was carrying triumphant photos and video of buycotters in Montreal and Ottawa.
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“Easiest action ask I’ve ever made,” wrote one climate hawk. “Now I know why there’s no one at the office today,” another one said.
Ricochet Media pointed to Quebec’s Coule pas chez nous coalition as one of the local groups that leapt into action as soon as Notley made her announcement. “We saw this bombshell come out,” said organizer Marie-Ève Leclerc, “and right away we started brainstorming a campaign in response.”
“With Valentine’s Day coming up, we wanted to show our love for B.C. in a big way,” she added. “We’re all in this climate fight together, and we will stand in solidarity with our friends out west as they face threats and boycotts for taking common-sense steps to fight climate change.”
Ricochet says the #QCLovesBCWine campaign won’t end with this week’s response. Several Quebec organizations are urging their supporters “to commit to buying B.C. wine and to post a photo with the hashtag,” the paper notes, and restaurants will be approached, as well.
Vancouver Metro News picks up the response on the west coast, with Green Leader Andrew Weaver buying three bottles of his favourite B.C. red and Vancouver’s Okanagan Estate Wine Shop launching the meme that made the rounds earlier this week: “Drink Alberta’s share of B.C. wine to stop Kinder Morgan? Challenge accepted.”
“I don’t really take sides on the issue,” said owner Mike Romand. “But as a retailer of B.C. wines, this affects our producers, and anything that damages the industry would not be good news for us either.”
He added that “we specialize in local wines and like to support our producers. They didn’t really have anything to do with this conflict.”
“Here’s to a future where the way we live and work is based on love, respect, and sharing,” tweeted B.C. activist Torrance Coste. “One where jurisdictions don’t take petty shots at their neighbours because their neighbours are listening to the voices of Indigenous Nations and communities and standing up. #bcwine”
With grassroot support for B.C. gearing up, the Globe and Mail reports  that Houston-based Kinder Morgan is “mustering its legal team” against the province’s decision to seek independent scientific advice on the impact of a diluted bitumen spill in coastal waters. “We have initiated a technical and legal review of whether the suggested provincial initiatives could apply lawfully to a federally regulated project,” company president Ian Anderson wrote this week in a letter to Premier John Horgan. He claimed the proposed restrictions around oil exports are unnecessary and cautioned B.C. against using them “to frustrate or delay our project”.
The Globe says Anderson “stopped short of saying the company is close to abandoning the major expansion,” but indicated the company’s next steps would be guided by the additional regulatory detail B.C. has promised by the end of this month. “If they intend to reach beyond that to matters that are jurisdictional in nature and challenge the authority of this national project, then we’re going to have a problem,” he said.
Calgary energy analyst and conservative activist David Yager said the latest chapter in the pipeline saga doesn’t bode well for project proponents. “One can’t assume that they’ll continue with this ad infinitum,” he told  CBC. Companies have opportunities in other markets, and “I’m sure they’ve got it worked out how long they’re going to continue to do this before they…say, ‘We’re not doing this any longer; we’ve got other things to do,’” he added.
In Ottawa, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said he’d be willing to mediate the dispute between Alberta and B.C., but won’t budge on its approval of the project. “There will be frictions from time to time among provinces, and between governments and the government of Canada, but ultimately the government of Canada decides the national interest,” he told  media. “We have in this case determined what we believed the national interest to be and we stick by that decision.”
While ex-pipeline executive Dennis McConaghy says  Notley should suspend her province’s carbon levy unless B.C. reconsiders its new regulations, Alberta academic and government advisor Andrew Leach maintains  the carbon policy is still the province’s only hope of getting the pipeline built. “While B.C.’s actions are far from ideal, Alberta’s climate policies continue to pay dividends in the pipeline fight,” he writes. “In contrast to other observers, I don’t think that’s ever been more clear than it was this past week.”