New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair, who came under blistering attack from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and western premiers Wednesday over his oilsands policy, turned up the rhetorical heat by saying that profits earned by oilsands firms are artificially inflated.
“Right now we’re allowing them to use the air, the water and the land as a free dumping ground, and that’s where the problem arises,” Mulcair said in an exclusive interview Wednesday with the Vancouver Sun.
As a result, “profits are higher than they should be” in the oilsands sector.
“Why is that the case? Because they’re not assuming their obligations under the law because the government is not enforcing the law.”
Harper accused Mulcair earlier Wednesday of calling the oilsands industry a “disease” that should be shut down, while Alberta Premier Alison Redford said the NDP leader should show more “courtesy” by informing himself properly before making “disparaging comments about Alberta.”
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and B.C. Finance Minister Kevin Falcon also tore into the Montreal MP, who has blamed lax federal regulation of the oilsands industry for an inflated dollar and hundreds of thousands of lost jobs across Canada, especially in Ontario and Quebec.
“The leader of the NDP and ourselves are really on different wavelengths here,” Harper said in the House of Commons.
“We’re not interested in identifying which industries we’re going to call diseases and shut down.”
Harper was referring to a growing controversy over Mulcair’s argument that the oilsands industry has caused the “Dutch disease” — a term to describe the damage experienced by manufacturing firms due to a currency inflated by soaring natural-resources exports.