New Premier of Quebec in favor of Energy East

October 2, 2018 8:38 am

While the town and RM of Moosomin have been trying to restart the discussion on Energy East, governments that had been opposed to the project in Eastern Canada have been replaced by governments more open to it.

The former mayor of Montreal, an outspoken critic, has been replaced, the Ontario Liberal government has been replaced by a Conservative government, and now the government of Quebec has been replaced by a new government whose leaders is a successful businessman who has spoken of his openness to pipelines.

The following is from an iPolitics interview with CAQ leader and premier-elect Francois Legault:

Legault, 58, is a chartered account who made his personal fortune as a member of the team that launched the charter airline Air Transat.

“I’m trying to do something for Quebec and for my children,” he said, explaining why he switched from business to politics.

Opposition in Quebec to the Energy East pipeline project has been met with reminders from Western Canada that Quebec is on the receiving end of the equalization program. Legault said he believes Quebec should not be getting $9 billion a year in equalization payments — that it should instead be contributing equalization to poorer provinces.

“I am very ashamed that that we receive equalization,” he said. “Zero equalization is a priority.”

And he said he could agree to Energy East passing through Quebec if the province is paid royalties, something he said is feasible. “I would prefer receiving royalties to equalization,” he said.

. . .

“In Quebec we really need to focus on the economy and wealth creation.”

Legault left the PQ caucus in 2009, then returned to politics in 2011 in the hope that one of the existing parties would adopt his wealth-creation plans.

When the Liberals and the PQ ignored him, Legault merged his movement with Action démocratique du Québec, then Quebec’s third party. The CAQ contested its first election in 2012, winning 27 per cent of votes cast and 19 seats in Quebec’s 125-seat legislature.

In the 2014 election, when Philippe Couillard’s Liberals came to power, CAQ support slipped to 23 per cent, but the party won 22 seats.

Legault said that he turned his back on the PQ goal because “a majority of Quebecers do not want sovereignty and I am convinced even for the next 25 years there will not be a majority of Quebecers” in favour.

As well, he said he believes Quebecers can defend their values and their identity within Canada. Now his hope is that Quebecers will come around to his view that wealth creation — not existential shadowboxing — is the key to Quebec’s future.