How to Explain the Mulcair-versus-the-West Polemics to Outsiders

1. Nature has favoured the West by providing it with rich oil deposits that used to be called tar sands but are now called oil sands. The export of oil from these deposits has driven up the value of the Canadian dollar.

2. The high dollar has been bad for manufacturing, forestry and fishing, costing thousands of jobs everywhere in the country, but mainly in the East.

3. The new Leader of the Opposition, Tom Mulcair, a former Quebec cabinet minister, has attacked the oil companies that, he says, have not compensated the country for the damage the exploitation of the oil sands is doing to the environment.

4. The premiers of Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia have accused Mulcair of making this an East v. West issue and being divisive. Not so, said Mulcair; this was an all-Canadian issue. He hoped this would be a major theme in the next election. Having been a cabinet minister himself, he had much too much respect for the Western premiers to stoop so low as to attack them on this issue.

5. Mulcair said Canada had a case of Dutch disease, the condition in the Netherlands in 1959 when the discovery of natural gas increased the value of the country’s currency and caused industries to collapse.

6. This comparison has weakened Mulcair’s position that the controversy was mainly about the damage inflicted on the environment. It makes it seem that he was challenging Nature, after all.

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2 responses to “How to Explain the Mulcair-versus-the-West Polemics to Outsiders

  1. Richard Nielsen

    I think Mr. Mulcair is pointing out that if the true environmental costs of the oil sands was included they would be less profitable and therefore would have less of an impact on the value of the Canadian dollar and on the manufacturing industry of eastern Canada. There is thus no contradiction.

  2. David Schatzky

    Sadly, because of the coldly intellectual and undiplomatic way the very talented (but nevertheless neophytic) Mr. Mulcair made his pronouncement, he did not create good will but instead enmity. He should have visited the tar sands and met with Premier Redford before speaking out, and then westerners might have tuned in to his content, rather than being outraged.