The Heist of the Century

The Heist of the Century

  As the elections are coming, I am trying to follow the good advice from the columnists of Quebecers’ favourite firelighter, La Presse. They tell me that every reason to hate or despise the Liberals has already been exposed thoroughly, but add nothing more. And it is repeated throughout their blog, almost like there is a narrative at work. But I have too much faith in the professionalism of this daily’s columnists not to understand that, in order to better assimilate the content, they are in fact inviting me to do this research by myself. And then, I stumble upon

So, there is this person who has decided to create a list of all the swindles, lies and activities hardly believable as non criminal, of the Quebec Liberal Party (QLP). And then, Quebec’s Chief Electoral Officer decides that the site must be closed, ah! finally not, because some people could have started to doubt the legendary integrity of our democratic system. 1

But then, my playful spirit and I, have decided to draw a series of whimsical images based on the wonderful work of the site, because the QLP has hanged its signs too high on their posts, preventing me from comfortably drawing the traditional prick (badly executed of course), the little freckles, the moustache and the horns on my favourite candidates.


  The image The Heist of the Century is referring to the scandal of Anticosti, an island located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, in the province of Quebec. Under the reign of the Quebec Liberal Party, Anticosti’s oil exploitation rights, which cover 95% of the acreage of the island, have been transferred to the private sector, specifically to Petrolia, Junex, Corridor Ressources and TransAmerica Energy. The secrecy and apparent conflict of interest around the deal, as analysed in Maxime Duchesne’s article Anticosti, the Steal of the Century? 2 have scandalized many Quebecors. Furthermore, the notion of having their resources controlled by a minority in the private industry instead of being redistributed collectively, for instance towards the improvement of social services or payment of the provincial debt, have also discontented many (the loss for Quebec’s economy is estimated at $4000-billion). 3

The lack of independent study on the environmental impacts of the oil exploitation on Anticosti is a source of growing concern as well. The island hosts “a diversified terrestrial and aquatic fauna and flora, including many endangered species, (and) its reefs are part of the ten major ecological zones of the Gulf of St. Lawrence”. 4 The island’s ground is already fractured and friable, and encloses an important undocumented network of intertwined ground waters that are ultimately linked to the sea surrounding it. The type of oil expected to be drilled by the private industry necessitates the use of hydraulic fracturing 5 or fracking, a highly controversial method also applied in the case of shale gas. 6 In addition to the apprehension related to this type of drilling in such a distinctive environment without prior research and proper study of possible consequences, the fact that the exploration activities are exempt from the obligation of conforming to the Environmental Quality Act is not reassuring. 7

Another predictable threat on the environment is related to the transport of the oil and fracking fluids that will need to be conveyed from the island to the coast. Anticosti is known as the “Gulf Graveyard”, a reputation acquired at the expense of numerous shipwrecks provoked by the treacherous reefs surrounding the island. 8 An oil spill resulting from shipping operations is not only very likely but could prove to be extremely difficult to clean, especially during winter considering the influence of the tide on the movement of ice patches and the various unpredictable climatic conditions of the region, as the Havre-St-Pierrre oil spill has already shown us, in 1999. 9

An online petition, asking for a moratorium on the question of Anticosti’s hydrocarbon, is trying to gather one hundred thousand signatures. that it was subject to a fine of $5000 to $30 000 and that it had to be closed before midnight. The website (which specifically targets the QLP) was at first identified as an unauthorised electoral expense but, after reconsideration, Quebec’s Chief Electoral Officer finally labelled it a “citizen media”, a status that makes it eligible to the exemption that protects free speech of the media (under article 404 of the Election Act).
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2- Original in fr:

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6- This process includes the “fracturing of deep soil and the injection of a large quantity of pressurized water to which are added a series of harmful chemicals”. fr (

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9- “There were fears in March 1999 for the health of three bird species after a tanker spilled 49 tonnes of oil near Havre-Saint-Pierre on the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, in Quebec. Within days, part of the oil slick drifted onto the islands of the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve. It was one of the worst oil spills in Canada in terms of the number of seabirds killed — nearly 1,000 Common Eiders were found dead after this spill.” en ( As explained in the documentary What is happening on the Island of Anticosti? (Que se passe-t’il sur l’île d’Anticosti? in French) fr (, companies that were accredited to clean much bigger oil spills could not manage to act for weeks precisely because of the challenges of winter weather.