CHARLOTTETOWN - Ontario will soon uncork a deal with British Columbia to improve access to that province’s wines.
After years of protectionism — and complaints from Ontarians unable to get many fine B.C. vintages — Premier Kathleen Wynne said Thursday an agreement is near.
“Christy Clark and I talked about this last year and I have said to her that I would like to fix this,” Wynne said of her B.C. counterpart who has led the charge among the premiers for freer internal trade within Canada.
“I’d like to work on this and make sure that in the not-too-distant future we make some changes. It’s the kind of example of a specific issue that needs to be addressed as part of the broader discussion on the Agreement on Internal Trade,” the Ontario premier said.
Her comments came as Canada’s provincial and territorial leaders are attending the Council of the Federation conference where trade is again a hot topic.
Clark, who brought a case of Okanagan Valley chardonnay and pinot noir to the premiers’ meeting last summer in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. to highlight the issue, said “in our province we’ve open up our borders to wine from all across the country.”
“Our civil servants told us we were going to lose millions and millions of dollars. We haven’t. But what we’ve done is we’ve given consumers much, much more choice and made it possible for people to enjoy fantastic wine from Niagara,” the B.C. premier said.
“Premier Wynne and I have had some conversations about that and I can say that I’m hopeful about where Ontario might be on that,” she said.
“Ontario and British Columbia have . . . over 200 wineries each. Each province produces fantastic wine.”
While the federal government eased interprovincial rules surrounding wine two years ago, it remains illegal for Ontarians to buy vintages in bulk and have them shipped from B.C. vineyards.
A key hurdle has been that the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, the province’s booze monopoly, doesn’t want to lose any revenue.