The conservative divide converged at the United We Roll protest Tuesday as Maxime Bernier, leader of the fledgling People’s Party of Canada and Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer bookended other speeches with their own pitches on reviving the domestic energy industry.
While both men vowed to abolish the federal carbon tax, build pipelines to tidewater and scrap new Liberal government environemental legislation that ratchets up assessments on such projects to include ‘end-use’ carbon emissions, Bernier promised “to use the Constitution if necessary.”
“If we don’t have an agreement with the politicians in Québec, with the politicians in B.C., we will use the Constitution and impose the pipeline,” Bernier told the pro-pipeline crowd before evoking the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster. “Because Canadians know that it’s safer to build a pipeline today, it is safer for the environment and it is safer for the corporation and Québecers remember what happend in Lac-Mégantic.”
In 2013, brakes failed on a 74-car train carrying crude oil and it barreled into the small Québec community killing 47 people and destroying the entire downtown.
Bernier, a former Conservative MP who lost a nail-biter leadership contest to Scheer and later abandoned his colleagues to form his own political party, also promised to scrap Bill C-48 – the tanker ban on B.C.’s coast – as well as C-49 that, among other provisions, would penalize rail shippers who don’t provide enough capacity to grain shippers.
Though Scheer delivered a more middle-of-the-road appeal when he took his turn at the microphone, he lashed out at anti-pipeline protesters.
“It is time that Canda has a prime minister that is proud of our enregy sector, that doesn’t got to Europe to tell his friends that he’s trying to phase out our oil and gas,” Scheer said, before criticizing a perceived-hypocrisy amongst the militant anti-resources set. “I am tired of seeing people chaining themselves to trees and laying down in front of bulldozers trying to block Canadian energy from reaching markets.”
About 75 such protestors stood outside Parliament Hill’s gates as security prevented them from entering the grounds where United We Roll speakers addressed supporters. They were a mix of indigenous people and their ‘allies’, as well as masked demonstrators from the far-left antifa movement.
“But yet, day after day we see tanker after tanker of foreign oil coming into our markets. It’s time for that to stop,” continued Scheer.
Scheer has continually trailed Justin Trudeau and the Liberals in polling, in spite of the prime minister’s gaffe-filled and ethics scandal-plagued tenure, however the recent Jody Wilson-Raybould/SNC-Lavalin affair has given the Conservative leader and his party a slight edge. A recent Ipsos survey put Scheer two points ahead at 36 per cent support to Trudeau’s 34 per cent with the New Democrats garnering just 17 per cent of popular support.
Polling around 10 per cent of popular support nationwide, Bernier could be a wild card in the next federal election and would likely peel support away from Scheer. Well aware of this factor, Scheer used his United We Roll address to appeal to voters.
“So come October, we have the power, you have the power, to get rid of the biggest single impediment to keeping our energy from getting to market and that is Justin Trudeau and the Lib government,” Scheer said. “We can do it by voting him out and getting a Conservative government that will scrap C-69, the no-pipeline bill, that will scrap the carbon tax … and build pipelines that will get oil off of the railways.”
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