09/16/2011 09:29 EDT | Updated 01/12/2012 01:36 EST

Ex PQ leader joins Questerre Energy

Canada's shale gas industry is turning to another Quebec political heavyweight to bolster its case for further exploration.

Alberta-based Questerre Energy has appointed former Parti Québécois leader André Boisclair as an advisor to its board.

The company was running shale gas exploration projects in Quebec when the province's Liberal government, under growing public pressure, announced a two-year moratorium on new developments.

Boisclair's "knowledge of Quebec culture" makes him a valuable advisor on "socio-political considerations" in the province, Questerre Energy said in a news release.

Boisclair said that Quebec's energy independence remains a priority for him, noting the moratorium offers time to engage in a "constructive dialogue" about shale gas.

Boisclair served as Quebec environment minister under PQ premier Bernard Landry a decade ago.

Opposition to the controversial energy source is based largely on concerns about groundwater contamination during extraction.

The extraction process known as "fracking" can lead to underground leaks.

Another ex PQ leader is already heavily involved in the shale gas industry.

As president of the Quebec Oil and Gas Association, former premier Lucien Bouchard is entrusted with selling skeptical Quebecers on the merits of shale gas exploitation.

Boisclair and Bouchard's involvement in shale gas is a betrayal to the sovereignty movement, according to one elected official in Quebec City.

Québec solidaire MNA Amir Khadir said it's sad to see public figures with clout and "knowledge of the workings of government" serving corporate interests.

Their work on behalf of shale gas interests contributes to general cynicism among voters, Khadir said, especially given Quebec's ongoing struggle with corruption allegations.

Quebec's Lower Saint-Lawrence region is rich in shale deposits.