CALGARY—Federal Treasury Board President Tony Clement used a speech in the heart of Canada’s oil and gas sector to launch an attack on NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and his “dim” view of Canada’s resource industry.
Mulcair charges that booming energy exports, particularly from the oilsands, have created an artificially high dollar that has, in turn, hollowed out Canada’s manufacturing sector _ a phenomenon dubbed the “Dutch disease.”
“This is a reckless and irresponsible ideology that is bad for Alberta, it’s bad for my home province of Ontario and quite frankly, it’s bad for Canada,” Clement said in a morning speech to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.
Mulcair has insisted that statistics on manufacturing job losses are “irrefutable” and that “everyone” agrees more than half of those losses are the direct result of the artificially high Canadian dollar created by booming energy exports, particularly from Alberta’s oilsands.
Mulcair’s views have angered Alberta Premier Alison Redford and Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall.
Redford has said she won’t meet with Mulcair until he visits the Fort McMurray region to educate himself about the oilsands. Mulcair is to fly into Edmonton for meetings at the end of the month.
Clement said the Conservative government doesn’t want the kind of rhetoric being spouted by the NDP to take hold and couldn’t let it go unchallenged.
“We cannot let that debate go unmatched with our countervision. Especially damaging we feel is the idea that the way to get ahead in politics is to pitch region against region or class against class or economic sector against economic sector,” said Clement.
“This may be a debate that goes on for another 3 1/2 years until the next election,” he added.
A recent study by the Institute for Research on Public Policy—which was funded by the federal government—and the latest Statistics Canada manufacturing output data examine how seriously Canada is afflicted by the so-called Dutch disease.
The IRPP study concludes that about one-quarter of Canadian manufacturing output is suffering due to the high dollar.