A war of words between Alberta and Quebec over pipelines is now threatening to spill over into a boycott of products.
Tensions began last week, when newly minted Quebec Premier François Legault said at a First Ministers’ meeting in Montreal that “there’s no social acceptability” for the Energy East pipeline in his province, which would carry “dirty energy.”
The remark prompted a response from Alberta’s Finance Minister Joe Ceci, who said Legault fails to understand the energy sector.
“He clearly doesn’t understand what is happening in the energy sector in Alberta at this point in time,” Ceci told reporters Monday.
WATCH: Can the Energy East pipeline project be revived?
“We need to start operating as one country, as opposed to many provinces who are looking out for their own individual interests,” Ceci said.
The Quebec premier’s stance has dashed the hopes of New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs, who said last week he hopes a pipeline carrying western crude through Quebec to his province will one day be built.
It has also led former Wildrose leader Brian Jean, and several other Albertans, to threaten to boycott Quebec products.
In a tweet on Saturday, Jean slammed the Quebec premier and the province’s equalization payments.
“Fine. There is no social acceptability in Alberta for any Quebec product whatsoever. Let the boycott begin,” a photo accompanying the tweet read.
Several Albertans retweeted Jean’s post, and chimed in with suggestions on products that can be boycotted.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about Alberta’s economic situation amid rising tensions with Quebec, and controversy over equalization payments.
“We’re looking for ways we can support Premier Notley and the people of Alberta,” he said.
Trudeau did not mention any specific measures to help support Albertans.
Federal Minister of International Trade Francois-Philippe Champagne stressed that provinces must “work together.”
“When one part of the country is not doing well, that affects other parts of the country,” he told reporters.
Tension over equalization payments
Tensions between Quebec and Alberta were exacerbated further by the equalization payments announcement by federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau.
On Sunday, Morneau released the amount of money Ottawa will transfer to the provinces and territories in 2019-20, including nearly $20 billion in equalization.
The amount will be split among five provinces — Quebec, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. For the first time since the 2008 recession put Ontario on the have-not province list, Ontario is not among them.
Quebec is getting more than $13 billion from the program, an increase of nearly $1.4 billion — and two-thirds of the entire national envelope.
Alberta, which is facing several years of deficits amid struggles with oil, remains a “have” province and failed to qualify to receive payments from Ottawa.
WATCH: Morneau says discussions on equalization won’t happen until next renewal
Ceci slammed the formula used to calculate payments Monday, saying it is unfair and needs fixing.
“Equalization does not work for Alberta. We’ve expressed that view before,” he said.
Reviewing the formula used in determining equalization payments in five years, as Morneau has promised, is not good enough, Ceci said.
— With files from The Canadian Press