Montreal·Video

Kenney to Quebec: Don't want propane shortages? Build more pipelines

In a Facebook Live Thursday, Alberta's premier says his province has the means to provide Quebec with a stable supply of fossil fuels. "They're called pipelines."

Alberta premier responds to Legault's call for an end to CN rail strike, while farmers stage tractor protest

In a Facebook Live Q&A Thursday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney suggested Quebec consider pipelines if they want to avoid propane shortages in the future. (Facebook screenshot)

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has one message for his Quebec counterpart François Legault: if you don't want propane shortages, build more pipelines.

Kenney made the comments during a live Q&A on Facebook Thursday.

"We have technology that could guarantee you constant, stable access to propane and other fuels. They're called pipelines," he said.

"If the government of Quebec is concerned about reliable access to propane and other fuels … then we have a very simple message for the government of Quebec: help us build additional pipeline capacity."

The comments come after Legault called for an end to the Canadian National (CN) Railway strike, saying the province's supply of propane will run out in a matter of days.

The Quebec government is rationing the remaining supply of its propane.

Tractors roll into Montreal in protest

About a dozen farmers drove their tractors across the Jacques Cartier Bridge to CN headquarters in Montreal Friday to demand an end to the labour dispute that's forced propane companies to cut off the supply of fuel farmers rely on to dry feed grain. (Mathieu Wagner/Radio-Canada)

"Grain farmers were the first to be cut off," said Marquis Grégoire, the vice-president of Suroît Propane. "They're big consumers."

Grégoire said 70 per cent of the propane his company supplies is used by farmers to dry their grain.

"We've been taken hostage by this situation," said Dominic Debuc, who is on the executive of the Union des producteurs agricoles, Quebec's main farmers association.

"It's an emergency situation, really. It's critical because if we don't have the grain, we can't feed our animals during the winter. We could end up with a grain shortage by the end of the winter."

Debuc was among about a dozen farmers who staged a protest in front of the office of federal Liberal MP Brenda Shanahan in Châteauguay, on Montreal's South Shore, urging the federal government to act to end the CN strike.

They then drove their tractors over the Jacques Cartier Bridge and on to CN headquarters in downtown Montreal.

Farmers explain why a propane shortage is terrible for them: 
About a dozen farmers drove their tractors across Montreal's Jacques Cartier Bridge Friday, demanding an end to the labour dispute that's forced propane companies to cut off the supply of fuel farmers rely on to dry feed grain. 2:00

Legault is calling on the federal government to consider legislating striking rail workers back to work, if need be.

The union representing those workers speculated earlier Friday that the propane shortage was being "fabricated" by CN to create a crisis and force back-to-work legislation.

Pipelines safer, Kenney says

In his Facebook Live earlier Friday, Kenney also said that Alberta wants to see the rail strike solved "as soon as possible," citing the damage it is doing to the province's farmers and energy sector.

However, he said that Quebec would not need to rely on storage and rationing if there was a way to "ship in" fossil fuels through a pipeline.

"We think our friends in Quebec should understand, obviously, the potential danger of rail shipments," he said, alluding to the 2013 derailment of a 73-car train carrying crude oil in Lac-Mégantic, in which 47 people died in the ensuing explosions. "How much safer — both in terms of human life and environmental safety — pipelines are."

To be clear, there are already pipelines carrying both oil and natural gas as far as Montreal.

The Enbridge Line 9 that runs from Sarnia, Ont., to Montreal has the capacity to carry 300,000 barrels a day. The TransCanada Energy mainline that starts in Alberta and runs into Quebec has a capacity of 445 million cubic metres daily.

TransCanada had proposed expanding its network by adding another 1,500 kilometres of pipeline east of Montreal and on to the Maritimes. That project, called Energy East, would have converted its existing pipeline from natural gas to oil, creating the capacity for more than one million barrels of oil a day.

With oil prices down and regulatory and environmental hurdles piling up, TransCanada pulled the plug on that project in October 2017.

There are currently no proposed oil pipeline projects for Quebec.

Legault has said he is in favour of a pipeline carrying natural gas from Alberta to the Saguenay.

With files from Kate McKenna, Matt D'Amours and Radio-Canada

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