Oil pipelines remain contentious as more provinces opposed to federal carbon tax

ABOVE: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Quebec Premier François Legault hope to find common ground on pipelines.

Canada’s premiers are meeting in Saskatoon, focusing on economic development in their Wednesday session. However, there is still a key issue at the table — pipelines.

Prior to the meeting, Council of the Federation (COF) chair and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe voiced the desire to have talk of developing economic corridors on the agenda.

However, Quebec Premier Francois Legault said pipelines continue to be a sticking point in these discussions.

“When we talk about this economic corridor, we agree about hydroelectricity, about gas, but regarding oil there’s no social acceptability in Quebec so that’s why we keep our position,” Legault said.

Canada’s premiers focus on trade, economy as they meet in Saskatoon

Premier Moe said that while Quebec remains firm on its oil pipeline stance, there are other options to establish a national energy corridor like natural gas and hydro that Quebec is more open to, according to Legault. Alberta premier Jason Kenney said a liquefied natural gas pipeline would be a way to help his province’s “struggling economy.”

Moe also envisioned methane as an option for establishing the corridor, saying they could find ways to add to the gas’s value in other markets.

Quebec has rejected the construction of the Energy East pipeline, which would carry Alberta crude to Nova Scotia. New pipeline construction would run through Quebec. There is currently no private sector backing for Energy East.

Western premiers, including Kenney and Manitoba’s Brian Pallister, have been pushing for the pipeline along with New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs.

Alberta’s Jason Kenney tells N.B. he will be ‘relentless’ in fight for Energy East

Federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has also been championing the idea of a national energy corridor on the campaign trail ahead of the October federal election.

The premiers began discussing environmental plans and how to address climate change. That discussion will continue Thursday.

Split on pipelines, united on carbon tax

Prior to COF, anti-carbon tax and pro-pipeline premiers, including Kenney, Moe, Higgs, Ontario’s Doug Ford and the Northwest Territories’ Bob McLeod, met in Calgary to serve pancakes at the Calgary Stampede.

WATCH: Quebec premier open to construction of gas pipeline

The Northwest Terroties is not intervening in the carbon tax case.

Absent was Legault, who recently signed on as an intervener in Saskatchewan’s Supreme Court case challenging the constitutionality of the federal government’s ability to impose its carbon price backstop.

P.E.I., Quebec intervene in Saskatchewan’s legal challenge of carbon tax

Quebec has a cap and trade system, which Legault says is not going anywhere. Quebec is joining Saskatchewan’s challenge due to a feeling Ottawa is overstepping its constitutional bounds.

“We decided to go to the Supreme Court to contest the jurisdiction to choose the way that we will reduce greenhouse gas,” Legault said.

“So it’s a different position but we will disagree with the federal government trying to impose its way of taxing carbon.”

Moe added there will always be regional differences between the provinces on a number of issues, which is why meeting like COF are important.

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Despite differing views on pipelines, Moe welcomed Legault’s involvement in their Supreme Court challenge.

“We firmly believe the federal government is impeding into provincial jurisdiction. If they are able to do it in this instance, they would be able to do it in other areas such as education and other areas that have always been provincial jurisdiction,” Moe said.

Legault said he did not get an invite to join the rest of the intervening premiers at the Calgary Stampede.

— With files from Global News’ Silas Brown

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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