Commentary – When government fails us

Jeff Burgar

A few weeks ago, noise was not even hot and furious about Alberta pipelines and the ridiculous yap coming from British Columbia’s Lower Mainland.

I had to add my two cents. So, I wrote a couple of e-mails to the head offices of a couple of wineries, and also to one of the major retailers in Alberta.

I said I would not be buying B.C. wine until our pipeline was built. So, once our family “wine cellar” was empty, we would no longer restock with Peller Estates, Mission Hill, Blasted Church or anything else that came from our neighbour to our west.

We are great believers in shopping local. Even though there are always good buys to be had from Chile and Australia, we much prefer Canadian. Even if the cheap plonk we usually buy starts with even cheaper grapes imported from Chile, it is still made in Canada. It has Canadian grape content. There is also our own Shady Orchard Winery in High Prairie.

And Canadian labour. All good stuff as far as we are concerned. And never mind if our wine cellar is actually just a space on the floor for a couple of boxes, we are happy supporting Canada. And of course, Alberta!

We don’t know if we made any difference. Right after, note that, after, our letters went out, Premier Rachel Notley announced a ban on B.C. wine.

Good for her! People were on the move!

You may have heard, the ban was lifted a few days ago. We’re going to stick to our guns for a while. There are many acceptable wines coming from Ontario. There is no rush.

Now, we aren’t in favour of boycotts at all. We think there are far better ways to make a point. That could be through discussion, belly-aching on social media, writing letters to the editor, posting on websites and more. Putting pressure on a business through a boycott, or a whole industry just because, well, in many cases just because you feel you should, we think is wrong. There are so many innocent people who could get hurt. Call it ‘collateral damage’.

For instance, we could be boycotting a B.C. winery which is actually nowhere near the pipeline route. They might in fact, support the project. And now, their business and staff might be hurt.

Even worse, we might be switching our support to an Ontario company that has a horrible safety record, treats its staff unfairly, and could be in court on 20 different pollution charges we don’t know about.

For me, the bottom line is the B.C. government started this. Trying to dink around a federally approved pipeline project is none of their responsibility.

If anybody should be concerned about unintended consequences, it is the instigators of these troubles – themselves.

This isn’t a boycott because we are upset over something. This is doing what has to be done by citizens when government, in this case federal, won’t do its job.


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