Everyone agrees that Quebecers made a statement in the Canadian Federal election. There is less agreement about what the statement means.
As a President of a natural gas company in Quebec I have noticed that Quebecers don’t like being told what’s good for them. This is not unique to Quebec. No one likes being told what to do.
Social media is giving direct democracy power to people everywhere. From Obamamania, to North Africa to the election of Nenshi in Calgary, people are using it to tell leaders what to do instead of the other way around.
What is unique to Quebec is history. Francophone emancipation was achieved only decades ago in the Quiet Revolution where the old elites were supplanted by a Quebecois one.
Today the old paternalistic elites are faded ghosts. The Quiet Revolution revitalized the Quebec identity and the social media revolution is adding confidence. Is the impulsive sweeping aside of a French elite an expression of this confidence? Is it an echo of the Quiet Revolution? Does it mean anything for the natural gas industry?
Our industry has been telling Quebecers that natural gas is good for them. “Trust us, don’t worry, we are doing it successfully in Western Canada. It is cheaper, cleaner and brings jobs.”
The emotional response from empowered Quebecers is “Maybe, but we will decide and we will tell you what is good for us.”
Natural gas is already big on the Quebec energy menu and about 20% of the natural gas consumed in Quebec today is from shale. The SEA gives the natural gas industry a second chance. It will study producing natural gas in Quebec instead of importing it. Quebecers have made a statement that they will decide.