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Don't buy Notley's whine

Bradley Hughes

February 8, 2018

Don’t believe Alberta Premier Notley when she claims she is standing up for workers and their jobs.

On February 6 she announced that as part of “our ongoing campaign to protect our jobs here in this province from the unprovoked and unconstitutional attack on the Trans Mountain pipeline” the Alberta government would boycott BC wines. This was in response to the BCNDP government’s plan to review the consequences of diluted bitumen spills before approving any pipeline expansions. From now on the Alberta Gaming and Alcohol Commission will no longer buy wine from BC wineries.

This move does nothing to protect jobs.

The peak of employment in oil and gas extraction and mining in Alberta was in November 2013 when 182,500 were employed. At the end of last year, that number had dropped to 147,100 workers which is 35,000 less jobs or a 20 per cent decline. Refusing to allow BC wine into the province of Alberta will not bring those jobs back. Even building more pipelines is unlikely to bring all of those jobs back. As has happened in other industries, after every downturn companies turn to more automation to try to restore profits and in doing so replace more and more workers with machines. For example, Suncor announced in January that it will eliminate 500 jobs in the Tar Sands by switching to driverless trucks. It will only require 100 workers to replace the 500 workers, a reduction of 80 percent. Because the trucks are operated remotely the small number of new jobs don’t even need to be in Alberta. A government funded just transition to skilled well-paid unionized jobs is what would put people back to work.

Switching sides?

According to the Globe and Mail the Premier pointed out that the upcoming by-election in BC is in the centre of the BC’s wine growing region. If Premier Notley is hoping that her actions will help the BC Liberals, she has truly left the left. The BC Liberals were responsible for vicious cuts to public funding, they closed schools and hospitals, and their inaction fuelled the housing crisis and the opiate crisis. Nothing that helps the BC Liberals could possibly help the workers of Alberta.

Buy BC wine?

In response to the wine ban, a number of environmentalists have urged people to buy even more BC wine to pick up the slack. There is no reason to feel sympathy for BC winery owners. Like winery owners anywhere, they are an affluent group of people who make their money in an environmentally destructive industry relying on the exploitation of low-payed, hard-working migrant labour.

Build the resistance!

There is something we can do. Keep building the anti-pipeline movement and the movement for a just transition, like the Leap Manifesto. The Notleys and the Trudeaus of the world cannot imagine a world free of destructive industries and the 1% who profit from them. All of us who can imagine a better world have to build the movements that can push them out of the way.

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