Western conservative leaders are firing back at Yves-Francois Blanchet after the Bloc Quebecois leader said he had “no advice” for Western separatists looking to create “an oil state”.
“If they were attempting to create a green state in Western Canada, I might be tempted to help them,” Blanchet said Wednesday. “If they are trying to create an oil state in Western Canada, they cannot expect any help from us.”
In a Facebook post Thursday morning, federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called Blanchet’s comments “both insulting and completely disingenuous.
“Insulting because he accused westerners of faking a unity crisis when the frustration and anxiety out west is all too real,” Scheer wrote. “Disingenuous because he refuses to acknowledge how much his province has benefitted from the west’s economic success. His hypocrisy and double-standard are astounding.”
Both leaders met this week with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss how the incoming minority government will work. Scheer’s Tories will form the official opposition, while Blanchet’s party surged to the third-most seats in the recent federal election.
WATCH: ‘Don’t count on me to support prairie demands,’ Bloc leader says. Story continues below.
In Thursday’s Facebook post, Scheer, who represents the riding of Regina—Qu’Appelle, also accused the Liberal leader of “dividing” the country.
“Trudeau has demonized energy workers, put hundreds of thousands of them out of work, and travels the world with a message that he wants to phase out Canada’s energy sector,” Scheer wrote.
In 2017, Trudeau walked back comments he made at a rally about how the oil sands must be phased out, saying that he misspoke.
Blanchet responded to Scheer’s retort on Twitter, arguing the Tory leading needs to do some reading.
“Maybe Andrew Scheer did not understand from the campaign that we should debate without insult,” the Bloc leader wrote in French.
“Pick a lane”
Scheer’s retort follows similarly fiery comments from Alberta premier Jason Kenney at an oilfield worker conference Wednesday night.
“You cannot have your cake and eat it too. Pick a lane,” Kenney said of Blanchet.
“Either you can say, as Quebec, that you’re no longer going to take the energy and equalization resources that come from Western Canada’s oil and gas industry … or you can do what we do as Canadians — coming together to support each other, especially at times of adversity.”
While Kenney has said he, himself, is not a separatist, he also says people in the Prairie provinces have “a bloody right” to be frustrated. Last week, the premier announced the creation of a “Fair Deal Panel” made up of current MLAs and community members. The panel’s stated goals are to host consultations and examine what steps Alberta should take towards being more independent, from creating a provincial police force to withdrawing from the Canada pension plan.
Western separatism is currently seeing a resurgence after a federal election that left the governing Liberal Party completely shut out of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
In his election-night victory speech, Trudeau addressed Canadians in the two provinces in a pledge for national unity.
“I’ve heard your frustration and I want to be there to support you. Let us all work hard to bring our country together,” he said.
With files from the Canadian Press.