SASKATOON – Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall’s tough words Tuesday toward Quebec’s government, which announced intentions to file an injunction against a national pipeline, may ring hollow out east, but could play well at home according to a political scientist.
Wall said on Tuesday that the proposed Energy East pipeline is “a shovel ready project that doesn’t take any federal dollars at all … and we have Quebec opposing it.”
The comments came hours after Quebec’s environment minister announced intentions to seek a court injunction against the project, saying the province’s laws must be respected by putting the proposal through an environmental assessment.
“I think it is going to be divisive, I don’t think they’re trying to be, but it probably is going to be a bit divisive unfortunately,” said Wall in response to the move.
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The premier’s steadfast comments come weeks before a provincial election and could serve him well, according to political scientist Joe Garcea.
“It does make for pretty good politics at election time when you can be seen as a defender of the provincial interests,” said Garcea, who is a professor at the University of Saskatchewan.
The dispute may divide the two provincial governments, according to Garcea, however he stressed that leaders need to remind the public that the issue must be resolved, “so that Canadians … aren’t being pitted against other Canadians.”
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“This really does require some sensible and prudent negotiations, but also some more prudent political management at the broad level,” said Garcea.
Wall and his counterparts will meet Thursday in Vancouver with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss the issue of climate change. Garcea said Canada’s first-term leader will need to help reconcile differences between the two provinces.
“All Canadians across this country, including all the premiers, are united in their desire to build a stronger economy that doesn’t put at risk our environment,” said Trudeau to reporters ahead of Thursday’s meeting.
Garcea said the prime minister needs to remind leaders that “having provinces arguing and fighting with each other on various matters doesn’t necessarily serve the national, or for that matter, the provincial interest that well.”
“What will ensure that everybody’s happy and do we need to think of a more integrated process,” added Garcea.