A poll released Wednesday finds Quebecers prefer oil imported from Western Canada.
This comes in the midst of a dispute between Quebec and Alberta — Premier François Legault put the kibosh on any future pipelines through Quebec, while Alberta is desperate to get its product to market.
However, this Leger poll for the Montreal Economic Institute suggests Quebecers are more pro-oil than the premier thinks.
Since he dismissed reviving the energy east pipeline and called Alberta oil “dirty energy,” Legault hasn’t stopped much to talk to reporters about it. On Wednesday, though, he did want to make one thing clear:
“Fifty per cent,” he said. “Fifty per cent of our oil is coming from Canada.”
WATCH: PM Trudeau, MP Champagne comment on Alberta plans to boycott Quebec products
To be precise, Quebec imports 53 per cent of its oil from Canada, more than 40 per cent from the United States and six per cent from Algeria.
The Leger poll found that 66 per cent of Quebecers prefer importing oil from Western Canada, even if much of it comes from Alberta’s oilsands. Only seven per cent said they preferred to import oil from the U.S. and three per cent said they preferred Algeria.
“It simply debunks the myth that Quebecers don’t want ‘dirty oil’ from out west,” said Germain Belzile with the Montreal Economic Institute.
“Their prosperity is also our prosperity,” he added.
Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer mentioned the poll to a group of Alberta oil and gas workers Wednesday, while he attended a pro-pipeline rally just south of Edmonton. The rally and truck convoy drew large crowds of people showing their support of Alberta’s beleaguered energy industry.
Scheer said he recognizes the anxiety faced by many in the oil and gas sector and wanted to ensure them that his party is working to get them back on the job.
“I know there’s a growing sense that Albertans feel left aside,” he said to a roaring crowd. “Canadians haven’t given up on Alberta. Canadians are behind you and Canadians will support you and Canadians will do everything we can to get you back on your feet.
“We are fighting for you, we are on your side. We are bringing up these issues day in and day out in the House of Commons. We’re not just holding the Liberal government to account, we’re showing the hypocrisy of a Liberal government that is doing everything it can to phase out Canada’s energy sector, but seems to have no problem importing foreign oil from other countries.”
Several oil and gas workers also weighed in on the poll, saying it suggests their message is being heard across the country.
“I think that’s awesome and that’s all we want is recognition,” Laurie Ryan said. “I think if anything, we want to keep this country together, we don’t want it pulled apart and we’re here to work with everyone.”
“I think that’s a sign that this message is getting through,” Dan Haayema added. “It makes me happy that the message is getting across, that people are actually starting to talk across the country about Alberta oil.”
WATCH: Speaking at a rally in Nisku, Alta. in support of the energy sector, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer said: “Give a province $1.6B and you might feed them for a couple weeks but let them build a pipeline to get our energy to market and you can feed them for a generation.”
The poll also found that 45 per cent of Quebecers support pipelines as the safest way of transporting oil, compared to 14 per cent who support tanker trucks, 13 per cent for train and nine per cent for seagoing tankers.
“Quebecers are very pragmatic,” Belzille said. “They understand it’s a very safe and efficient way of transporting oil. And if we import oil, we have to transport it one way or another.”
Quebec’s environment minister, however, unequivocally dismissed the idea of a pipeline that passes through Quebec once again.
“The premier was very clear that there is no social acceptability and I agree with him. That’s all I have to say about that,” said MarieChantal Chassé.
Since Legault’s comments, Alberta has criticized Quebec for receiving more equalization payments than any other province when much of it comes from Alberta oil wealth. Quebec has responded by saying it has a plan to become a have province in the next decade.
“And therefore our dependence on equalization will be reduced over time, and I’ve said that to the other finance ministers. We want to reduce equalization,” said Quebec Finance Minister Éric Girard.
The government could do that by developing Quebec’s oil resources, an option to which it hasn’t committed. According to the Leger poll, however, 53 per cent of respondents would be in favour of oil development in the province.
With files from Caley Ramsay, Global News.