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Thursday, December 27, 2018

A must read for Albertans

A letter from Quebec to my friends in Alberta

Alec Castonguay: You’re angry, I get it. But the source of your woes is not Quebec, where consumption of Canadian oil has in fact exploded

Dear Alberta friends,
I’ve come to visit you often enough in Alberta — whether I was reporting stories, interviewing politicians or simply on vacation — that I’ve gotten to know you a bit. Maybe not enough to call you “friends,” but in the Facebook era, friendship comes easily.
(I do have real friends there, however. A special hello to Carl B., a customs agent in Calgary, who’s better at stopping bad guys than at winning hockey pools.)
In politics, Alberta friends, you have a hot-blooded streak a Quebecer knows how to appreciate. In fact, I’ve always thought Albertans are the most Québécois of Canadians. You’re emotional, your choices aren’t always logical, you get your back up when attacked and you’re quick to act. And you mistrust Ottawa and its big paws almost as much as we do. When the federal government starts to long for areas of provincial jurisdiction, as it recently did for a national securities commission, Quebec can always count on Alberta to join it on the front lines. Sometimes the two of us can even succeed in getting Manitoba to follow along with us.
So I wasn’t surprised to see your bitter reaction after our premier, François Legault, talked about “dirty energy” on Dec. 7 in reference to the oil sands. He’s not really wrong, because that oil is hard to extract. And he’s right to say Energy East doesn’t have the “social acceptability” it needs to get built, even if you really really want it. The proponent, TransCanada, botched its homework and finally gave up because it’s no longer commercially viable. Even Ontario didn’t want it. Quebec is just a handy target.
I’ll grant you, however, that Legault was seriously lacking in diplomacy. A rookie mistake in the Canadian big leagues. He should have known he’d put a match to a powder keg, given the political context in your corner of the country.

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