LeBlanc accuses Kenney of sowing division in Alberta
Rachel Gilmore, Power Play producer
Published Friday, September 7, 2018 6:41PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, September 8, 2018 11:45AM EDT
Newly minted Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc rejected Alberta UCP Leader Jason Kenney’s claims of brewing separatism in Alberta during an interview with CTV’s Power Play Friday -- and alleged Kenney is contributing to division in the province.
In response to questions about rising separatism in the province, the minister in charge of managing inter-government relationships said Kenney was maneuvering to “play the politics of fear” and “exacerbate regional divisions.”
He was reacting to Kenney’s suggestion that separatism might be on the rise in Alberta after a court ruling halted the planned Trans Mountain pipeline project. The Alberta opposition leader made the comment during a Wednesday interview on Power Play.
“I would not be surprised if a significant and growing minority of Albertans are entertaining [separatism],” Kenney said.
“I’m a Canadian nationalist and, by the way, separating ourselves from the rest of the country is not how we’re going to get market access. But still, that frustration is real.”
Kenney went on to float the idea of Alberta holding a referendum on equalization, the payments taxpayers make to help lift up have-not provinces. Alberta got nothing in return in 2017-18. Now Kenney says that leverage should be used to force the government to get the Trans Mountain pipeline built.
LeBlanc dismissed that suggestion too.
“Obviously Mr. Kenney is seeking to inflame and exacerbate those frustrations for his own reasons in Alberta,” LeBlanc said.
“He can be accountable for that.”
But frustration is indeed growing in the province -- at least according to former interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose.
“Jason has a real sense of what that [court decision] means for the province so I think he’s capturing that sentiment and let me tell you, it is strong,” Ambrose said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Canadians have been left in the dark on the federal government’s next steps. It has yet to reveal its plans to respond to the court ruling that halted the pipeline’s construction.
While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers have repeatedly reiterated their support for the project, they haven’t said whether they will appeal the ruling -- or when they will make that decision.
Despite all this, the prime minister stayed optimistic about the project during an armchair discussion Friday.
“There is a glimmer of optimism to be had because if we do the consultations with Indigenous peoples properly, if we get the science right, we can move forward in the right way on this project -- and on other projects,” Trudeau said.