B.C. wins wine trade deals as Clark pushes provinces to open borders

Wine tasting | BCBusiness
A wine tasting in Naramata, B.C.

As Saskatchewan inks a new deal and Ontario prepares its own, B.C.’s premier is leading a successful campaign to open up Canada’s borders

A major theme to come out of this week’s premiers conference, a yearly summer meeting in Charlottetown, was more free-flowing wine between Canada’s provinces. And leading the charge was B.C. Premier Christy Clark.
On Friday morning, Clark and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall announced that Saskatchewan would open its borders to B.C. for the legal importation of wine and craft spirits by next June—once the “fine details” have been hammered out, explained Clark.
But a far bigger deal is in the works, one with Canada’s biggest market: Ontario. On Thursday, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said she would like to “fix” the barriers preventing Ontarians from buying vintage B.C. wine in bulk.
While the Liquor Control Board of Ontario worries it will lose revenue if such a deal is struck, Clark argued that B.C. hasn’t suffered from opening its own borders. “We were the first ones to do it and we have felt almost no fiscal impact,” she said Thursday, “but it’s been fantastic for consumers. It didn’t take British Columbia long to drop our protectionist barriers. You can do it quicker than you can build them up.”
Ontario represents well over a third of Canada’s entire population—for B.C. wineries, that could mean a much larger market. And for consumers, a lot more selection. Both Ontario and B.C. have over 200 wineries each.
For her part, B.C.’s premier is in good spirits. Clark believes Canada’s wine trade barriers may very well be knocked down by next summer. “I’m hopeful that by the next Council of the Federation, the next meeting of Canada’s premiers, Canada’s borders will be open for wine right across this country,” she said.