WINNIPEG – Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger and Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall have discussed a growing dispute stemming from a western trade deal that does not include Manitoba.
Selinger says he and Wall agree that a priority is a renewed national trade deal that will lower barriers to businesses across the country.
Wall says he is hopeful a new national deal scheduled for next spring will address Manitoba’s concerns if the province agrees to open up its boundaries.
Manitoba businesses have been facing new hurdles to doing business with the other western provinces under an agreement called the New West Partnership.
Saskatchewan has said some Crown corporation contracts will only be open to businesses in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia — the provinces that signed on to the partnership.
The Alberta government has changed its liquor pricing so that craft beer from the partnership provinces is much less expensive than beer from elsewhere.
One Winnipeg beer-maker, Farmery Estate Brewery, says it’s being hurt by the provision.
Co-owner Chris Warwaruk says the change means an eight-pack of Farmery cans in Alberta will cost about $4.50 more than similar beer from the other western provinces.
“We either have to eat some of the cost and make less (profit) per case … or, if we stay at that price level, we’re going to definitely see a decrease in sales,” he said.
“It’s definitely a big disappointment to be left out of this partnership. And if you ask any Manitoban, Saskatchewan or Albertan, we all consider ourselves a part of the West.”
— With files from Jennifer Graham in Regina