On air yesterday, Brian Jean, former leader of Alberta’s Wildrose Party, described the cancellation of the Energy East pipeline project, coupled with public glee expressed by Quebec politicians (notably Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre), as a “threat to Confederation.”
Jean’s words were a rather more polite version of what listeners have shared through email and social media in recent days since the cancellation of the pipeline was announced.
The chief magistrate of La Ville de Montreal has increasingly irritated Albertans, but not exclusively. Opinion from east and west of Alberta’s borders concerning Coderre has been uncomplimentary.
If I had a proverbial dollar for each mention of Mayor Coderre’s reassigning of the St. Lawrence River to massive free-flowing septic bed, my name would be added to annual lists of the wealthiest of Canadians.
Coderre’s assigning himself the role of chief destroyer of Energy East infuriates those for whom the pipeline would have provided employment, as well as those who saw Energy East as an economic boon to not only Alberta, but also Quebec itself.
Jean made mention of the many billions of transfer payment dollars Quebec has pocketed by way of Alberta’s oil and natural resources success. He added without equivocation those transfer payments would cease were he to become Premier of Alberta.
As Premier, Jean says he would engage each possible lever, including the Supreme Court of Canada, to shut, seal and lock the spigot which activates the transfer-payment pipeline to Quebec.
Coderre may well shrug off such a notion today.
There remains a question for Quebec politicians who consider Alberta’s oil travelling by pipeline through their territory too dangerous to the provincial environment and not nearly sufficiently cash-friendly.
What is it about oil tankers from the Middle East buzzing through the St. Lawrence which makes them of no environmental concern? Certainly the largest of the world’s floating oil barges cannot traverse the entire length of the St. Lawrence to Montreal, but they can offload their cargo onto smaller ships.
Why is oil from Middle Eastern countries preferable in Quebec to our own Canadian oil? As far as pipelines being an environmental threat is concerned, may I point you toward Lac Mégantic, where oil transported by rail resulted in monstrous tragedy.
Back though to Jean’s comment that ending Energy East may well prove a national issue on a grand scale.
The last time a vote on Canada’s future was held, it was exclusively Quebec’s decision to make. Mr. Coderre may well be at least cracking the door open for a possible future vote — one for which Quebecers could be relegated to the sidelines.