It is not a Maxime Bernier-led breakaway party that stands to most damage Conservative prospects in Quebec in next year’s federal election but rather some of leader Andrew Scheer’s own promises.
In a keynote speech to his party’s national convention on Friday, Scheer laid out part of his 2019 battle plan. As expected, it borrows heavily from Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s successful recipe, starting with a frontal attack on Justin Trudeau’s national carbon-pricing policy.
One of the first acts in office of a Scheer-led government would be to abolish the federal carbon tax that Ottawa will apply to provinces that fail to come up with measures of their own to meet the emissions-pricing targets set in the national climate change framework.
In line with his Prairies allies, Scheer would pursue a proactive pipeline agenda. It would include a renewed push to resurrect the plan to connect Western Canada’s oilfields to the Atlantic Coast. Last year, TransCanada nixed its planned Energy East pipeline rather than submit it to stringent new climate change standards put in place by the federal regulator.
Scheer argues those standards are designed to stifle the development of new pipelines in Canada. A Conservative government would lower them.
Given their recent internal distractions, chances are Conservative strategists have not been paying a lot of attention to the ongoing Quebec election campaign.
If they had, they would have noted that, in sharp contrast with comparable provincial jurisdictions such as Ontario, British Columbia, New Brunswick and Alberta, the desirability of either carbon pricing or new pipelines is not on the electoral radar.