From 'solution' to 'anger': Reactions to SNC-Lavalin in Que. and Alta.
CTVNews.ca Staff, with reports from CTV’s Genevieve Beauchemin and Janet Dirks
Published Thursday, February 28, 2019 10:24PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 28, 2019 11:13PM EST
When it comes to Canadians’ reactions to the ongoing SNC-Lavalin scandal, it appears that opinions could not be more starkly different between the provinces of Quebec and Alberta.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spent much of his day Thursday in his home province, where SNC-Lavalin is headquartered. His message that his government was standing up for SNC-Lavalin jobs appears to have found some ground there, where the company is widely considered a “crown jewel” of Quebec’s economy.
“I think the economical imperatives here are very important,” a man told CTV News on the streets of Papineau, the Montreal electoral district that has been held by Trudeau for more than a decade.
Yves Boisvery is a columnist with the Montreal digital newspaper La Presse.
“In Quebec, it is more seen as a way to find a solution to save an important strategic company,” Boisvery told CTV News.
SNC-Lavalin employs roughly 9,000 people in Canada, and 3,400 of those jobs are in Quebec.
“There were many and broad conversations about the importance of defending jobs, not just in Quebec but right across the country,” Trudeau told reporters from Quebec on Thursday.
But in the aftermath of former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould’s explosive testimony in Parliament Wednesday, the tone in some editorials has begun to shift.
In the newspaper Le Journal de Montreal, for example, columnist Richard Martineau argued Thursday that Trudeau isn’t trying to save jobs so much as shore up support for this year’s federal election.
THE VIEW FROM ALBERTA
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley appeared before the Senate in Ottawa Thursday to give her take on Bill C-69, which would change how energy projects -- such as pipelines -- are assessed.
“I know that right now, Ottawa is a little consumed with the SNC-Lavalin affair,” Notley said from the capital. “But I need you to know that when Alberta's energy industry is hurting, the whole country pays a price.”
Notley, however, deflected any suggestion that Ottawa is playing favourites with Quebec.
“I don't want to pit the two against each other,” she said.
Some 3,000 kilometres, many Albertans, however, do feel like favouritism is at play at a time when their economy is struggling amid low oil prices.
“Alberta is getting short shifted,” one man told CTV News on Thursday from a Calgary coffee shop.
Another said that the duelling crises have left him resigned and angry.
“Resignation, like there's nothing you can do about it,” he said. “And anger that the central eastern culture could care less, quite frankly.”
Lori Williams, a political scientist with Calgary’s Mount Royal University, says that many in Alberta feel that the system is inherently unfair.
“We give into equalization (payments), Quebec receives from equalization,” she told CTV News. “We have concerns about jobs and Quebec jobs seem to count more.”