A chronology of the Great Wine War of 2018:
• Jan. 30 — Citing the risk to B.C.’s environment, Premier John Horgan announces the province might limit imports of Alberta bitumen.
• Jan. 31 — Horgan’s former BFF Rachel Notley removes him from the “favourites” on her phone, razors his picture out of NDP yearbook photo from 1995.
• Feb. 1 — Alberta suspends negotiations to buy electricity from British Columbia. Bumper stickers appear from Vancouver to Vanderhoof: “Let the Eastern bastards stare at their dead cellphones in the dark.”
• Feb. 6 — Notley announces Alberta will ban B.C. wines. Politicians in Victoria are outraged: “Big government picking on innocent small businesses? That’s our job.”
• Feb. 7-26 — An uneasy period known as the Phoney War ensues, with plenty of sabre-rattling but no real hostilities. Victoria vegetarian restaurants refuse to serve Alberta beef. Ditto for Alberta seafood. Stephen Harper swears off B.C. Bud.
• Feb. 27 — Tensions rise as B.C. retaliates in earnest: 100.3 The Q refuses to play Nickelback.
• Feb. 28 — The Q enjoys its greatest ratings in 30 years.
• March 1 — Alberta radio stations refuse to play Loverboy, Trooper, or the Poppy Family. B.C. musicians threaten violence unless they’re returned to the airwaves. Rallying cry: “54-40 or fight!”
• March 8 — In a scene reminiscent of the partition of Pakistan and India in 1947, there is mass migration across the Rockies. Pickup trucks choke the highway south of Fort McMurray as oil patch workers head back to the B.C. towns they fled when the mills closed. An eerie stillness settles over Vancouver Island golf course communities as retirees return to Wild Rose country.
• March 12 — Vowing to restore order, Justin Trudeau announces Canadian Army troops will establish a demilitarized zone along the B.C.-Alberta border.
• March 13 — Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan reminds Trudeau that B.C.’s last army base, CFB Chilliwack, closed in 1997. Trudeau announces the Royal Canadian Navy will deploy instead. Crew of HMCS Calgary declares itself conflicted.
• March 15 — As the rhetoric ramps up, old wounds reopen: Albertans angrily recall a 1970s B.C. Ferries tourist promotion in which daffodils were scattered over Calgary from a plane. Alas, it was minus 10 that day and the flowers froze as they fell, forcing pedestrians to dive for cover as the icy spears rained down and shattered on the street. I’m not making this up.
• March 17 — HMCS Regina reportedly hung up on Hells Gate rapids.
• March 18 — INVASION! Heavily armoured chuckwagons roll across the border and occupy Revelstoke.
• March 21 — ANSCHLUSS! Turns out British Columbians are not all on the same page. Many in the Interior favour the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Quislings wave Alberta flags and cheer as wagon train reaches Kamloops.
• March 22 — RESISTANCE! After a couple of runs at the big hill outside Hope, a relief column of aging Volkswagen Westfalias breaks the Siege of Merritt. (“It was the Raging Grannies,” ashen-faced Albertans would later say. “They. Wouldn’t. Stop. Singing. Also, those shrubby kids with their bongo drums were driving us nuts.”)
• March 24 — COLLAPSE! A surprise noon-hour attack catches Vancouver hipsters sleeping. Despite valiant attempts to hold their ground through interpretive dance and a Facebook petition with more than 10,000 likes, the embattled Vancouver militia, which had been reduced to eating nothing but bullied beef, hardtack and small-batch, artisanal avocado toast, was overwhelmed. (“It was the Albertans’ work ethic,” ashen-faced millennials would later say. “Also, we felt there should have been a trigger warning.”)
By the end of the day, the pavement was stained with blood, or perhaps chewing tobacco which is, like, totally gross.
• March 25 — The Albertans reach the Tsawwassen ferry terminal but, not realizing it’s spring break, are halted by a three-sailing wait and an unexpected smoking ban.
Across the strait, Horgan remains defiant: “We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight to keep Andrew Weaver happy, just as Rachel Notley will fight to keep Jason Kenney off her heels. We shall never surrender.”
Meanwhile, the Albertans gawk at the coast and say: “This is really pretty. It would be awful if something happened to it.”