There is a growing conflict developing between Alberta and Quebec. Last week, Premier François Legault sparked outrage when he called Alberta oil “dirty energy.”
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has accused Quebec of hypocrisy for accepting equalization payments from oil revenue.
“I would say to the new premier of Quebec that he needs to get off his high horse,” said Notley during a press conference Tuesday.
There were fighting words from the premier of Alberta as Notley lashed out at Legault in response to comments he made at last week’s first ministers’ meeting in Montreal. Legault rejected the idea of reviving the energy east pipeline.
“There is no social acceptance for a pipeline that would pass through Quebec territory,” Legault said.
Instead, the premier tried to sell the idea of other provinces’ buying more Quebec hydroelectricity.
“I am not embarrassed to refuse dirty energy while we are offering clean energy at a competitive price,” he said.
“(Legault) needs to understand that not only is our product not dirty, but that it actually funds the schools, the hospitals and potentially even some of the hydro-electricity infrastructure in Quebec,” Notley responded.
Notley was referring to equalization payments to Quebec, which will total $13 billion this year and the largest of any province and two-thirds of the total federal transfers.
Alberta has been facing significant deficits for the last several years, but it is still considered a “have” province and does not qualify for any equalization.
On Wednesday, Legault wouldn’t comment at all about the situation, but Quebec’s justice minister attempted to smooth things over.
“Yes, I heard it created quite a storm in Alberta,” said Justice Minister Sonia LeBel. “We are not at war with Alberta. We always have good relationships with Alberta (and) we intend to continue that way.”
It might be too little too late — some people in Alberta, like Brian Jean, the former leader of the now-defunct Wildrose Party, are calling for a boycott of Quebec products.
However, Quebec’s premier is receiving support from the opposition Québec Solidaire.
“I understand that they are facing a big problem, (but) they have to adapt their economy. As the whole world has to do. The solution is not to continue on going on exploiting tar sands,” said Québec Solidaire MNA Sol Zanetti.
“The solution is not passing a pipeline through Quebec.”