Good morning! It’s James Keller in Calgary.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney may have used the provincial election campaign to repeatedly attack Quebec, but he has since taken a more conciliatory tone.
During the campaign, Mr. Kenney railed against Quebec Premier François Legault for his opposition to pipelines. He also decried what he complained was an unfair equalization system that favoured Quebec even though the province appeared ungrateful for Alberta’s oil wealth.
But once the results were in, he took a much softer approach. In his victory speech on election night, he addressed Quebeckers in French and said the two provinces are “natural allies” who should work together. The following day, he promised to sell Quebec voters on the merits of the Alberta crude – as opposed to imported oil from the Middle East – and travel to the province to deliver that message personally.
That mission begins this week, as Mr. Kenney visits Quebec for the first time since taking office.
His agenda includes a speech at the International Economic Forum of the Americas conference in Montreal and, this afternoon, a meeting with Mr. Legault.
Yesterday, Mr. Kenney said his message for Quebec would be that the province should be eager to use Alberta oil instead of crude from countries with human-rights problems, and that “we want to renew the historic alliance" between the two provinces.
Mr. Legault has suggested he won’t budge on oil pipelines through Quebec, for which he says there is “no social acceptability.” But as of right now, there aren’t any oil pipelines proposed through the province. TransCanada killed its proposed Energy East pipeline in 2017 in large part for economic reasons, and there has been little appetite among the industry to revive it.
Still, there may be other areas where the two premiers might agree. Chief among them is a proposed liquefied natural gas export project in Quebec’s Saguenay region, which Mr. Legault supports. The Énergie Saguenay project would be supplied by natural gas from Alberta, as well as B.C. and Saskatchewan, and would require a new pipeline from Ontario.
Another point of contention could be Mr. Kenney’s frequent criticism of the equalization program and in particular the amount that Quebec receives. Mr. Kenney has threatened to hold a provincial referendum calling for equalization to be removed from the constitution, and he said provinces that benefit from equalization shouldn’t be criticizing the oil industry, which has made Alberta a net contributor.
Later in the week, Mr. Kenney will be in New Brunswick and P.E.I., where he sees those province’s Conservative premiers as allies.
This is the twice-weekly Western Canada newsletter written by B.C. Editor Wendy Cox and Alberta Bureau Chief James Keller. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you from someone else, you can sign up for it and all Globe newsletters here. This is a new project and we’ll be experimenting as we go, so let us know what you think.
Around the West
Bill C-69: The federal Liberals have rejected nearly all of the amendments proposed by Conservative Senators and the Alberta government to Bill C-69. The contentious legislation that would overhaul environmental approvals for resource projects, including pipelines, and has been the target of scorn from Conservatives, the industry and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.
The bill will be debated Wednesday, which will be followed by a vote before it returns to the Senate. Mr. Kenney told a news conference in Montreal the few amendments the Liberals are making do nothing to fix the bill and he plans to proceed with a legal challenge.
Plastics ban: Environment reporter Jeff Lewis writes that the next threat to the oil industry could be in the grocery aisle. A worldwide movement to limit single-use plastics in food packaging poses a challenge for Canada’s fossil-fuel sector, at the same time that large companies struggle with volatile prices, pipeline constraints and the global rise of electric vehicles.
The oil industry supplies chemical manufacturers with the building blocks needed to make resins that are used to create plastic products. Globally, petrochemicals account for the single-largest contributor to oil-demand growth out to 2040, according to the International Energy Agency.
The lobby group for Canada’s oil producers declined comment on the impact of the measure. The Chemistry Industry Association of Canada, whose members include Imperial Oil Ltd., Inter Pipeline Ltd. and the Canadian arm of Dow Chemical, said it does not support bans of any kind.
Woman in a hurry: Amber L’Heureux’s signature colour is pink, though she doesn’t care for it much. She’s making a point, though, with her pink chuckwagon. Ms. L’Heureux is the world’s first female professional chuckwagon driver. A race in North Battleford, Sask., recently was her first in the big leagues, her chance to prove that she belongs in a sport she has spent her whole life in.
Cannabis: New research in the United States is pouring some cold water on the notion that legalized cannabis could serve as an effective substitute for those addicted to opioids.
An earlier, landmark study in the United States studying data between 1999 to 2010 found that the 13 states with medical cannabis laws on the books saw slower-than-expected increases in prescription opioid death rates. The original authors speculated that patients might be substituting marijuana for painkillers, but they warned against drawing conclusions.
But the new study found states with medical cannabis laws might have higher – not lower – rates of these deaths. Legalizing medical marijuana “is not going to be a solution to the opioid overdose crisis,” said lead author of the new study, Chelsea Shover of Stanford University School of Medicine.
Civic ethics: In an apparent first for British Columbia, Surrey will recruit an independent ethics commissioner with powers that could include investigating any future allegations of misconduct by the mayor and council.
The plan is part of an ethics package that also includes a council code of conduct, as well as bolstering the lobbyists registry that is now voluntary and limited to the development application process.
Tom Flanagan on First Nations pipeline ownership: “The mean family income of First Nations supporting these pipelines is half or less than for the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia in which they are situated. Their average Community Well-Being Index is also 20 points or more lower, on a scale from 1 to 100, than their provincial averages.”
Dwight Newman and John C. Major on the bill implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: “Legislators need to clarify and amend important parts of it to avoid serious and potentially wide-ranging unintended effects on Canadian law. And since acts of Parliament are the most formal expression of the will of the state – they must have due regard for historic precedent, drafting approaches that avoid ambiguity and vagueness, and legislative conventions (there are, for instance, inconsistencies between the English and French versions) – C-262 needs to be clearly understood by the public, members of Parliament and the Senate. Some of the public statements being made around the bill suggest that this is not currently the case.”
Jason Tchir on speed limits: “Furious that you can’t go as fast as our neighbours down south? It turns out that higher speed limits in the United States might not mean safer roads. ‘They’re not doing just fine,’ says Mohamed Hussein, assistant professor of engineering at McMaster University. ‘Their fatality rate for 2016 was double ours.’ ”