by Lorne Gunter
Remarks made by Ottawa Liberal MP David McGuinty (brother of outgoing Ontario Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty) are so ignorant, bigoted and dumb, I’m not sure there is room enough here to dissect them fully.
On Tuesday, after he failed to get his way at a Parliamentary committee, McGuinty sprayed venom at Alberta MPs, saying they don’t belong in Parliament unless they adopt a more national view of the energy industry.
“They are national legislators with a national responsibility, but they come across as very, very small-p provincial individuals who are jealously guarding one industrial sector … the oilsands business specifically, as one that they’re going to fight to the death for. They really should go back to Alberta and run either for municipal council in a city that’s deeply affected by the oilsands business or go run for the Alberta legislature.”
Really? So what about Ontario MPs who pushed for a $4 billion auto bailout in 2008? That’s no more or less a “small-p provincial” cause than protecting the energy sector. It doesn’t do the national economy any good if automakers collapse and tens of thousands of Ontarians are thrown out of work. But given that there are tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs in Ontario dependent on the West’s energy sector, it does the national economy no good for oilsands development to wane either.
Would McGuinty then suggest that Ontario MPs who pushed hard for the bailout of General Motors and Chrysler go back to where they came from and seek local office only? Of course he would never say that because, as a Liberal from Ontario, it is imprinted in McGuinty’s DNA to conflate his region’s and his party’s self-interests with “national responsibilities.”
And how about Quebec MPs, whether from the Bloc or NDP, whose main reason for being in Ottawa is to push for more power and money for Quebec? That is a cause that, unlike Alberta’s oil industry, has no national spinoff benefits. Would McGuinty ever dream of telling them to putter off home? Of course not. Liberals are desperate to win votes in Quebec again. What’s more, the Grits have always confused appeasement of Quebec with enlightened thinking on the national unity file. Would he ever dream of telling immigrants or Aboriginals or visible minorities to go back where they came from, they’re interests aren’t national enough? Perish the thought.
Yet McGuinty saw absolutely nothing wrong with engaging in an old Liberal pastime — Alberta bashing. And there is no use blaming Tory bully tactics on House of Commons committees for his frustration. There was no one better than the Liberals at blocking all opposition initiatives when they held the majority. He’s just getting his own back. It is true that interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae hastily apologized “unequivocally” for McGuinty’s bigotry (my word, not Rae’s). And that late Wednesday, McGuinty was stripped of his shadow cabinet post as natural resources critic. But by then the damage was done. The ghost of the National Energy Program had been conjured and all the work done by Liberal leadership contenders to woo the West had been undone, at least temporarily.
Ironically, last week the international accounting firm Deloitte released a report showing that the energy sector was going to drive Canadian prosperity for the next
25 to 30 years and create 900,000 new jobs, many of them in Ontario. The only impediment was “energy illiteracy” in central Canada, where too few people “appreciate how significant the oilsands are to our economy.”
That illiteracy begins, apparently, with the Liberals’ now-former natural resources critic.