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Quebec pens letter to Alberta correcting the record on equalization payments, oil
Quebec Finance Minister Eric Girard presents an economic update Thursday, November 7, 2019 at his office in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
MONTREAL -- Quebec is extending an olive branch to Alberta in hopes of easing tensions between the two provinces.
"We have a lot in common with the western provinces and we believe that together, we can accomplish a lot more," the letter reads.
He also corrected the record on certain issues -- like oil, for example.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has suggested Quebecers are hypocrites for using energy and receiving billions of dollars in equalization payments yet refusing to help out a western province that is hurting because its oil is landlocked.
Since the reversal on Enbridge's Line 9B, said Girard, Quebec's oil imports from western provinces went from less than five per cent in 2012 to almost half in 2018, making Quebec one of their 'best new customers.'
Girard also wanted to clear up matters on equalization payments, and said it's "wrong to suggest that Alberta sends equalization payments directly to Quebec." He did say that the "program is not adapted to today’s reality, however, and must be reviewed."
"Quebec is the province that receives the smallest amount per capita," he said, explaining that the province received $13.1 billion in 2019-2020, but that it is trying to "close the wealth gap with the rest of Canada and assume greater economic leadership within the federation."
Girard said the province's long-term goal is to stop receiving equalization payments.
"Someday, Quebec will no longer receive equalization payments, and this will be a great day for Québec and Canada."
- With a report from The Canadian Press first published on Nov. 22, 2019