Quebec Conservative leader against banning hydrocarbons, but MNA abstained from vote
Iberville member of the National Assembly Claire Samson speaks at a news conference, as Quebec Conservative Party Leader Eric Duhaime, right, looks on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Even though Eric Duhaime's Conservative Party is against the hydrocarbon ban law Quebec passed Tuesday, his MNA Claire Samson says she was right to abstain from the vote.
The law puts an end to all oil and gas exploration and production activities in the province and compensates companies that hold permits to the tune of $100 million.
Duhaime supports the development of Quebec's hydrocarbon reserves, but his only MNA chose not to vote against the legislation. The elected representatives of Quebec Solidaire (QS) also abstained.
In a news scrum on Wednesday, Samson first said she was not in the National Assembly, then amended herself and justified her abstention.
"I had a phone meeting in my office and I didn't know the vote was going to be called," she said at first in the scrum until reporters reminded her that she was in the National Assembly at the time of the vote.
"Oh yes," she said. "I abstained, out of a sense of integrity and thoroughness."
Since she did not sit on the committee that studied the bill, she feels she was not familiar with the bill.
"I'm the only member of the Conservative Party, I can't sit on every committee," she said.
She was then asked if her leader called her to order?
"He didn't tell me," she said. "I abstained. I think I did the right thing."
MNAs from the Liberal Party (PLQ) and the Parti Québécois (PQ) voted in favour of the law, which was spearheaded by Energy and Natural Resources Minister Jonatan Julien.
Quebec thus becomes the first state or province in North America to renounce hydrocarbon extraction.
The law's compensation mechanism covers expenses incurred since 2015 by five companies ($66 million of the $100 million) and covers three-quarters of the costs of closing wells and restoring sites ($33 million of the $100 million).
It does not include compensation for potential revenue losses incurred by the buyout of permits.
The oil and gas companies were seeking at least $500 million in compensation.
Utica Resources has already indicated that it is challenging the government's proposed compensation.
The Quebec Energy Association (QEA) and the Abenaki Council of Wôlinak have also condemned the legislation. According to the AQE, Quebec is "the only one in the world right now to give up its oil and gas potential."
According to the Abenakis, this is a violation of Indigenous rights because the community has recently concluded an agreement with a producer.
There are currently 182 active permits, mostly in the St. Lawrence Valley and in the Lower St. Lawrence and Gaspé regions. There are also currently 62 wells to be rehabilitated.
There has been no exploration work in Quebec since 2011.
-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on April 13, 2022.