Mulcair stands behind contentious oilsands view
Published Sunday, May 20, 2012 8:31PM EDT
Opposition leader Thomas Mulcair is firing back at the assertion that his views on the oilsands are divisive and offensive to western Canada, accusing the Conservatives of misrepresenting his stance on resource development.
In an interview with CTV's Question Period on Sunday, Mulcair maintained that the New Democratic Party's environmental policy isn't about pitting one part of the country against another, but rather, fighting for sustainable development for the entire nation.
"It's not a question of one region versus the other," he said. "This is something we know has to apply equally in New Brunswick or in northern Ontario or in Alberta. It's not a question of targeting the West. That's the narrative -- that's the straw man -- that the Conservatives have tried to set up."
Mulcair came under attack last week after arguing that Canada's thriving energy exports -- fuelled largely by the oilsands -- have created an artificially high dollar, which in turn has tanked the manufacturing sector. Economists call the phenomenon the "Dutch disease."
The government pounced on Mulcair for his views, painting him as an ill-informed and divisive leader, who ultimately holds anti-west sentiments.
"I am wondering when the leader of the Opposition will apologize to western Canadians for suggesting the strength of the western Canadian economy is a disease on Canada," asked Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore in the House of Commons Thursday.
"He attacks western Canada, he attacks our energy industry, he attacks all of the West and the great work that is being done by western Canadians to contribute to Canada's national unity. He should be ashamed of himself," said Moore.
Western premiers also took offence, with both Alberta Premier Alison Redford and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall criticizing the leader for his views.
But Mulcair insists he never intended to pit one part of the nation against another.
"Look at anything I've ever written, or anything I've ever said to find an attack on what the provinces are doing -- you won't find any. Certainly nothing specific about the West," Mulcair told CTV's Craig Oliver.
Mulcair says his party believes in sustainable development based on the principles of polluter pay, internalizations of costs and user pay.
Failure to hold companies responsible for the full cost of resource development not only causes environmental problems, but economic problems as well, said Mulcair. And environmental negligence now only leads to serious challenges in the future, he warned.
"We're leaving the largest ecological, economic and social debt in our history in the backpacks of young people and we're telling them they'll pay for it," he said.
"We're going to be the first generation in Canadian history to leave less to the next generation than what we ourselves received if we continue this way."