Saskatchewan and Alberta have finally put an end to their licence plate battle.
According to an Alberta government spokesman, Saskatchewan sent them a letter Monday saying it is repealing its ban on vehicles with Alberta licence plates on Saskatchewan government project sites.
The letter arrived hours before an arbitration panel under the New West Partnership was set to begin.
Alberta had wanted to impose tariffs on beers created outside of the province, which meant small Saskatchewan breweries would pay the same as larger companies.
That legislation has since headed to an appeal board.
The Saskatchewan government said Alberta indicated they will honour the ruling of the appeal boards, which is why Saskatchewan has lifted the ban.
Steven Bonk, Saskatchewan’s economy minster, said this action, which was imposed back in December, shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone.
“As we mentioned in the throne speech, we will retaliate for what Alberta did in regards to the beer,” Bonk said.
The Saskatchewan government has said in the past that companies have come to them and said Alberta had a similar ban in place. The government hasn’t given out the specific names of the companies because of the worry they could miss out on future work in Alberta.
Bonk described dealing with Alberta Economic Development Minister Deron Bilous as “interesting”, noting it was difficult to coordinate between the two offices.
The government believed they had solid evidence they did not violate any free-trade agreements.
“It is absolutely a victory for Saskatchewan,” Bonk said.
While the government is happy with the outcome, the opposition feels this isn’t the type of thing the government needs to be focused on.
“This is a government that right now should be focusing on preparing the budget,” said NDP MLA Carla Beck. “I think it’s silly that (Bonk) had to take time to come down and provide some sort of justification for a dispute for which there is no justification.”
She indicated the reasoning behind repealing the ban is just “the reason of the day” and if it was about the beer issue, that should’ve been clarified before.
“This had a consequence with our relationship with our neighbours, this had consequence with regard to our credibility on the trade agreement, this had consequences with regard to the time and energy that was put into this silly dispute.”
Bonk said the two highway ministers will be meeting at some point to iron out a few things in regards to license plates.
— With files from The Canadian Press.