Ever since federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair began pointing recriminating fingers at Alberta’s energy industry over his so-called “Dutch Disease” thesis — alleging that Western Canadian energy exports hurt Eastern Canadian manufacturing by driving up the value of the Canadian dollar — it’s been rather tough sledding for the NDP in Alberta.
To judge from the actions of Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason it would be hard to tell; when Mulcair recently visited the Alberta NDP convention Mason failed to stand up to Mulcair over this wedge politics tactic.
But apparently Dan Meades, the NDP’s candidate in the upcoming Calgary Centre by-election is a little worried about the effect Mulcair’s then-unproven, now-disproven economic ruminations might have on his prospects to win the by-election. Apparently he’s worried enough about it that he doesn’t want to talk about it.
“Lots has been made about what Tom Mulcair said about oilsands development,” Meade said. “It isn’t what the people of Calgary Centre are talking about.”
“We first need to think about how our communities are doing and what it means to have a strong country,” he added. “We care about oilsands development that’s going to benefit all of us in all of the ways that it can.”
Unfortunately, this is about as close to an outright denunciation of Mulcair’s “Dutch Disease” thesis as Meades got. Conservative candidate Joan Crockett seems to have taken notice of that.
“I think Dutch disease is a priority for the NDP, which happens to be the candidate’s party.” countered Crockatt. “He’s going to need to own that.”
Either own it or disown it. Unless Meades is willing to discuss this issue during the by-election, it will be impossible to ignore the prospect that Mulcair’s “Dutch Disease” theories have simply been hidden within a Trojan Horse of Meades’ campaign. Mulcair has not been forthcoming about how he plans to use the power of the party whip on any MPs his party has from the province of Alberta. His party’s lone Alberta MP, Linda Duncan of Edmonton-Strathcona, has developed a disturbing habit of voting against the interests of her constituents.
Whether it was stripping the Alberta energy sector of its so-called “subsidies” in order to shift those subsidies to the forestry sector of Quebec, or voting against additional seats for Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario — again, seemingly to appease Quebec — Duncan has an alarming tendency to not be on her constituents’ side.
Were Dan Meades to, in future, be a member of an NDP government, would Thomas Mulcair use the power of the party whip to force him to vote in favour of what would essentially be a currency-fixing scheme that would blatantly penalize Alberta for the benefit of Eastern Canada?
Considering that such measures would be contained within a budget bill, the answer must almost certainly be “yes.” Would Meade acquiesce to the party whip and vote in favour of it? That’s another matter entirely.
Thomas Mulcair’s Alberta problem just happens to be Dan Meades’ problem period. And unless he is willing to be forthcoming where Mulcair will not, it’s a problem that Calgarians should be deeply concerned about.