The leader of the Bloc Québécois says Western Canada’s need to “obsessively want to extract oil from the ground” means it is difficult for his party to help further any separatist sentiment there.
“If they were attempting to create a green state in Western Canada, I might be tempted to help them,” Yves-François Blanchet told reporters in Ottawa on Wednesday, following a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“If they are trying to create an oil state in Western Canada, they cannot expect any help from us.”
Blanchet’s rendezvous with Trudeau is one of a string of meetings the prime minister is holding with political leaders following his minority government’s election and ahead of a new Parliament scheduled to open in December.
The meeting appeared to go smoother than one Trudeau held with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe the day before. Moe emerged from that meeting by dismissing the prime minister’s words as “more of the same,” before calling for more autonomy for his province.
Blanchet, however, left his meeting saying he was open to collaborating on Liberal government proposals to tackle climate change. The Liberals are 13 votes shy of a majority needed to pass legislation on their own, and with 32 seats, the Bloc is in a position to lend a helping hand.
“When there will be some initiatives brought forward in order to reduce our emissions to improve the huge problem of climate change, we will be open to discussion,” said Blanchet.
“However, each and every time, we have the duty to remind this government that they are also promoting the extraction, exportation, and consumption of oil throughout the world, which is destroying the effect of what they are trying to do on the other end.”
The Bloc leader was asked by a reporter whether he might have a message for people in Alberta and Saskatchewan, given that Blanchet appeared to get along with Trudeau better than Moe — even though Blanchet is the one leading a party committed to sovereignty.
Blanchet reaffirmed his commitment to Quebec independence — "I still believe that Quebec will do better when it becomes a country” — and so he said he will not be the one “that will fight to have a nice, beautiful and united Canada.”
The problem, he said, was the West's reliance on fossil fuels.
“I will not help some parts of Western Canada that could dream of some kind of — maybe (I won’t) go as far as (saying) ‘independence,’ maybe they are only building a strong position for themselves — but, I am not in a position to tell them what to do or not to do," he said.
"And, through national or international channels, we will keep fighting this idea to obsessively want to extract oil from the ground, and make the planet warmer.”