Former Liberal MP claims Alberta is envious of Quebec
OTTAWA - A former Liberal cabinet minister and Montreal mayor says Alberta is "jealous" of Quebec’s position in the federation.
"I think that if we cut that rhetoric and we’re more factual, we will witness that maybe Alberta is jealous of some of the powers that Quebec has and would like to have that kind of autonomy," said Denis Coderre in an interview on CTV’s Question Period, airing Sunday.
The former immigration minister said it’s time to acknowledge that politicians like Alberta Premier Jason Kenney are pushing "their own political agenda."
Kenney has been vocal about his province’s economic demands and their desire for more independence, like pulling out of the federal pension plan – an idea he floated last week. He’s also threatened to hold a referendum over the federal government’s equalization formula, which dishes out the most funds to Quebec.
In a written statement to CTVNews.ca, a spokesperson from the premier's office said "Aside from Mr. Coderre’s choice of words, we’ve been clear that Alberta should be able to exercise the same provincial rights as Quebec, if it should so choose."
Earlier this week, Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet spoke out against Kenney stating the west shouldn’t expect to see support from Quebec so long as they continue to promote the oil and gas sector.
The Alberta premier later responded, “You cannot have your cake and eat it too, pick a lane.” The remark was in reference to Quebec’s acceptance of federal equalization payments that are in part generated by “oilfield workers.”
The burgeoning dispute is at the top of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s long list of priorities as he approaches the swearing in of his new cabinet next week and a throne speech which will mark the opening of a new Parliament on Dec. 5.
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Jonathan Wilkinson, who also spoke on CTV’s Question Period, said the government is listening to the concerns of both Alberta and Saskatchewan.
"We want to ensure that we are thoughtful about the economic transitions for those provinces and how we’re going to do that," said Wilkinson.
That doesn’t involve knee-jerk reactions, he added.
"An immediate response is probably not the right thing for any prime minister or any government to do. Part of what we’ll be doing when the new cabinet is sworn in next week is having the conversations about how do we respond."
He said that response does not include a one-year moratorium on the carbon tax, as endorsed by Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe. Nor does it involve any immediate changes to Bill C-69, dubbed the “no more pipelines bill,” which overhauls the regulatory review process for major energy projects.
Wilkinson said the Liberals have options when it comes to a western presence at the cabinet table beyond formal representation, promoting his own experience working in Saskatchewan as a possible solution.
"I feel very close to that province and certainly I am personally very committed to ensuring those voices are heard around the table," he said.