Blanchet spars with Kenney after meeting with Trudeau
OTTAWA – Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet says comments made by western leaders about Quebec’s unfair share of national funds are "just not true."
The separatist party leader met with his 32-member caucus – many of whom are new to the Parliamentary precinct – on Wednesday for the first time since the election.
Blanchet said that the more he hears about provincial leaders such as Alberta Premier Jason Kenney suggesting his province and others pay for the way of Quebecers, the more firm his response becomes.
"I don’t know of any cheques signed by the Prime Minister of Alberta to the Government of Quebec. That just doesn’t exist," said Blanchet. "As far as I’m concerned, he owns oil and he can do whatever he wants with it."
Earlier in the day, after a sit-down meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about party priorities and finding common ground on issues such as climate change, Blanchet said he wouldn’t support western provinces in their separatist pursuits so long as they continue to promote the oil and gas sector.
"If they were attempting to create a green state in Western Canada, I might be tempted to help them. If they are trying to create an oil state in western Canada, they cannot expect any help from us," he said.
Kenney delivered a pointed response to Blanchet in a speech at the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, alluding to what he says is a contradiction between being firmly against oil production yet accepting money generated from western oilfields.
"You cannot have your cake and eat it too. Pick a lane. Either you can say as Quebec that you no longer are going to take the energy and equalization resources that come from Western Canada’s oil and gas industry, or you can do what we do as Canadians, coming together to support each other," said Kenney.
He once again asserted that his province has contributed “billions” to the federation while not receiving its fair share in return. Kenney has been vocally critical of the current equalization formula that distributes federal tax dollars to provinces based off their ability to generate income.
"All we ask is a little bit of fairness. We are not asking for a special deal, we are asking for a fair deal. And we will fight for that fair deal," he said.
Blanchet nevertheless doubled down on his stance that his party would strike down policies that offset progress on climate change and said he "isn’t expecting" mention of pipeline construction in Trudeau’s upcoming throne speech, leaving the door open to whether he’d vote in favor of it or not.
"Each and every time we have the duty to remind this government that they are also promoting the extraction, exportation and consumption of oil throughout the world which is destroying the effect of what they are trying to do on the other end. So it’s a matter of being relevant and coherent not to support oil when you want to reduce the effects of climate change," he said.
Traditionally, the vote on the throne speech is considered the first test of confidence in the House of Commons. A government needs to maintain the confidence in order to continue governing and considering the minority dynamics, the Liberals will need allies on the opposition benches to vote in favour in order for it to pass.
Blanchet and Trudeau’s meeting was a continuation of the prime minister’s week of sit-downs with the opposition leaders in advance of Parliament resuming on Dec. 5.