Canada needs ethical Canadian energy, whether Quebec likes it or not

Written By Anthony Daoud, Posted on January 16, 2020

Canada faces a troubling federal quagmire that has disseminated throughout various provinces. Opposition to Trudeau’s Liberal Party status quo has manifested itself through two giants; the Bloc Québécois and the Wexit movement. The latter is an ever-expanding drive for Western sovereignty. But the situation’s peculiar complexity is the fierce divide between East and West; the Bloc Québecois and its sovereigntist counterpart, Wexit. 

It ought to be noted that there exists a significant degree of misunderstanding between the West and Québec. Both forces play a paramount role in sustaining Canada. Moreover, the citizenry of the two respective provinces are participants in equal yet intrinsically unique cultures. 

The present vitriol impedes the potential for a productive relationship that can undoubtedly unleash the enormous potential the regions contain. The differences can be reconciled through a sequence of dialogue, thereby forging Québec and the West closer under our unified state. Western separation’s effects would not be zero-sum; while it may spur initial economic upturn, a landlocked nation cannot depend, nor survive, on a single industry. 

Wexit is a justifiable reactionary movement that reflects the federal government’s severe inability to perform its role adequately. It also serves a symbolic purpose, shining a light on the harsh realities faced by Albertan families who require on the energy industry to ensure a livelihood. A multidimensional issue, Alberta is undergoing an emergency of uncertainty.

Likewise to Canada’s previous mega-constitutional crisis, which had Québec sovereignty as its primary impetus, a (perhaps natural) trend is for provinces to embrace regionalism and fight amongst themselves. Not only is it counterproductive, but it also shifts focus astray from the problem’s seminal proponent, the federal government. Currently, the vociferous hostilities between Québec and Alberta have manifested through sophomoric rhetoric and a march towards unfounded antagonization. 

All our fault?

Of course, the burden of responsibility for heightened tensions amongst the provinces does not solely rest on the individual people. Above the quarrels, we share our collective Canadian identity. Instead, the onus is on the premiers and their respective administrations to engage in lengthy and proper dialogue to ease relations amongst the provinces. 

More importantly, something that is often overlooked is a healthy relationship between Alberta and Québec, which, if possible, holds the federal government to account. As enshrined in the 1982 Constitution, power is not exclusively vested in Ottawa; the provincial governments are privy to a degree of freedom. Together a steadfast Québécois-Albertan alliance can lead an enthusiastic effort to limit government overstepping its constrained jurisdiction. 

Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet, Québec Premier François Legault, and Premier Jason Kenney have the opportunity to forge a contemporary triumvirate in Canada’s political landscape. All three politicians have repeatedly demonstrated their tireless work ethic and phenomenal ability to resonate with voters. Uniting the populations in a quasi-provincial alliance would usher a new era in Canadian politics, to the benefit of us all. 

Bad comments 

Blanchet’s inspiring performances in the 2019 national French election debates convinced Québec voters he was the candidate best equipped to protect provincial interests in Ottawa. The Bloc Québécois’ tactics proved decisively triumphant in resonating with voters as the party won 32 seats, doing an excellent service to Scheer’s Conservatives by limiting Liberal hegemony over the province. 

But the Bloc leader made remarkably improper comments regarding Alberta’s oil and gas industry. CTV News reported that while conversing with Trudeau in the election’s aftermath, Blanchet proclaimed his opposition Wexit or Albertan independence if it would lead to the creation of an “oil state.”

In a CTV Power Play interview, Blanchet sardonically remarked he would gladly visit Alberta but would need security due to his unpopularity in the West. His comment typifies the fallacious narrative predominant in the Québec-Alberta divide, which posits violence is always close to being fervently unleashed.

When the CBC’s Vassy Kapelos asked Blanchet whether he had consideration for Albertan families who would be jeopardized should the ailing energy industry face further setbacks, he gave an uninspiring reply hinting that its Kenney’s prerogative to find sustainable, green, alternatives. 

He also unapologetically defended his position against a potential pipeline passing through Québec and into the Maritimes. As Martin Patriquin notes

“The Enbridge’s pipeline runs through Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ontario before dumping raw bitumen into the maw of hungry refineries located in Montreal’s east end.” 

Currently, 44% of Québec’s oil hails from Alberta.

Québec Premier François Legault doubled down on anti-Western energy rhetoric, insofar as labelling Alberta’s oil “dirty energy.” Soon after that, the Assemblé Nationale unanimously passed a motion committing the province to combat climate change. The decision subsequently led to Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois of Québec Solidaire, a far-left separatist party, to mock Jason Kenney, and by extension Alberta, on Twitter.

Jason Kenney has remained more diplomatic in his response but echoed the hypocrisy of Québec being privy to substantial transfer payments to the disproportionate detriment of  Alberta’s economy. 

Such inflammatory comments only serve to hyperpolarize the problems plaguing a weakened relationship that requires immediate resolution. Both provinces must cooperate for concrete measures to be undertaken and the realization of a pipeline passing through Québec into the Maritimes. 

Canadian oil exports

Tim McMillan’s report for JWN Energy impeccably summarizes why the world desperately requires our Canadian energy. His article elaborates on a series of truths being conveniently overlooked to stifle any potential pipeline construction. 

McMillan opens by swiftly shattering the uncertainty over the quality of our energy, thereby repudiating the likes of Blanchet, Legault and similar skeptics. He writes, “Our energy industry also holds world-class standards – among the best anywhere when it comes to innovation, environmental protection and responsible resource development.” 

Last year’s COP25 event held in Spain witnessed various nations around the world expressed the challenges they face committing to protecting economic stability to appease their populations with their promise to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Per McMillan, the ambitious objectives were set under the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions to combat global warming’s potentially disastrous effects properly. 

Here is where Canada can emerge as a global leader and cement its indispensable position in international affairs. Exporting our oil resources, which can last up to 300 years at current market levels, can aid in rescuing individuals from “energy poverty” and reduce net greenhouse gas emissions.  

LNG from Canada is concurrently beneficial for our domestic and global communities. It would produce 65 percent fewer greenhouse gases than coal when used in Asia to generate electricity. 

Coal is a far greater culprit in tarnishing our environment than liquid natural gas and represents 27% of global energy used. The United States has enjoyed a substantial decline in greenhouse gas emissions because the “exploitation of natural gas for LNG exports has also resulted in the closure of giant coal plants in favour of gas-burning ones” per Diane Francis of the Financial Post

Thus, it will enhance global cooperation to achieve realistic goals to phase out global warming. It would also shift international affairs further away from a realist paradigm whereby all states are self-serving to achieve their ends regardless of potential worldwide impacts. 


Francois Legault should emulate British Columbia, who has recently accepted to continue building the Coastal GasLink pipeline to Kitimat export terminal. The 670-kilometre pipeline is part of a $40 billion LNG Canada project.

Canadians all want a prosperous future. Fixing the current strenuous relationship between Québec and Alberta will undoubtedly lead to a brighter environmental and economic future. Through steady collaboration, Alberta can untap its proper industry’s potential, and Québec can demonstrate to the Canadian federal government that provinces are capable of forging their destiny. The two provinces have the possibility of becoming the country’s biggest internal political alliance to date. 

Anthony Daoud

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