​Quebec premier at odds with Alberta and Saskatchewan over Energy East pipeline

Quebec Premier Francois Legault. Image: Government of Quebec

SASKATOON — Alberta's premier says it doesn't matter if Quebec opposes the idea of the Energy East oil pipeline — the federal government should step in and make it happen.

Jason Kenney said he and Quebec Premier Francois Legault have made some gains after a rocky start.

But he said Legault is wrong to oppose an oil pipeline through Quebec because of the benefits the province receives from the oil industry.

“Quebec receives about $13 billion a year in equalization payments — almost all of that comes from Alberta,” Kenney said at The Council of the Federation meeting in Saskatoon on Wednesday.

“If you're going to benefit from the resources that pay the bills in the federation, then help us develop those resources and get a fair price for them.”

Quebec is backing one major issue with some of the other provinces — opposition of the federal carbon tax.

The Quebec government recently joined as an intervener in Saskatchewan's appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada of its constitutional challenge of Ottawa's carbon levy.

But Legault said Quebec is simply joining Saskatchewan's fight to contest Ottawa's jurisdiction. He said Quebec has no plan to change its cap-and-trade system, which charges a price on carbon.

And while Quebec is open to moving more resources through its jurisdiction, that doesn't include oil.

“It's clear right now that when we talk about this economic corridor we agree about hydro-electricity, about gas. We agree on many other subjects and I'm open and I support the project of a gas pipeline,” Legault said.

“The project of an oil pipeline? Right now there's no social acceptability (for it) in Quebec.”

Kenney said inter-provincial pipelines is a federal regulatory responsibility and it doesn't matter which party wins the federal election in October — action must be taken.

“This is not a partisan question,” said Kenney. “Whether it's Prime Minister (Justin) Trudeau or Prime Minister (Andrew) Scheer or prime minister anyone else, I would expect them to convey it to provinces.”

The conference is to wrap up Thursday.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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