Friday, 11 May 2012

NDP Edges Ahead of CPC Amid Oilsands Bashing - Poll

A Harris Decima poll has he New Democrats edging ahead of the Conservatives 34% to 30%, while the Liberals are steady at 20%.  With a 2.2% error margin this is nearly a statistical tie between the Opposition NDP and the governing Conservatives.

The Conservative Party has lost some political capital with its botched figures on F35 fighter jet procurement, the omnibus budget bill, which includes significant change to environmental laws and regulations and the recent privacy bill.  The apparent lack of respect, demonstrated by some members of the Conservative party, of taxpayers money has been perfect fodder for the opposition.

Add to this the unreported real cost of the war in Libya and the NDP is in perfect position to cash in on the fears and  doubts of Canadians.

There is also considerable opposition by environmental groups to oilsands development and Thomas Mulcair, Leader of the Official Opposition jumped right in to condemn the success of resource development.

Although Mulcair said in March that he would never be heard speaking against oilsands development,  he has jumped fully into condemning Harper's resource based policies on the economy as the "Dutch disease," referencing the Netherlands find of natural gas, which caused a decline in that countries economy.

Mulcair, speaking on a CBC radio program last weekend said that the oilsands are artificially inflated the Canadian dollar and hollowing out the country’s manufacturing sector, a similar comment made by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty earlier this year.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  One only needs to look south of the border, where the manufacturing industry has declined in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania, despite a lower valued U.S. dollar.  A lot of it has to do with the business environment, burdening regulation and lower labour cost in Asian countries.

Regardless of how one views the oilsands development the remarks were inappropriate from a leader of  a party that aspires to gouvern Canada.   Mulcair, a former liberal member of the Quebec National Assembly should be well aware of federal transfer payments that assure Quebec can afford $7 a day daycare and the lowest tuition fees in the country.  With the ongoing student strikes in Quebec, the Charest government has given in to the students, with the solution being to ask for more transfer payments, funded by revenues from the oilsands.

Mulcair's remarks drew angry remarks from Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.  Wall called the comments divisive for one that aspires to lead the country and said if Mulcair thinks the oilsands are a disease, he wants to know what the NDP thinks the cure is.  Saskatchewan has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country with the help of resource development of potash, uranium and oil.

Newly elected Alberta Premier Alison Redford also reacted stating that she is not sure if Mulcair's comments were well informed or just his opinion. She continued that she hopes he explains his motivation because she says someone looking to lead the country one day needs to understand just how important the oilsands are to the entire country.

Mulcair's remarks will fare well in southern Ontario, Quebec and probably in British Columbia.  So one has to ask if this is a calculated move that Mulcair made in order to get the edge on the Conservative government.

Mulcair, however, would do well to come out with a vision for the Canadian economy, rather than pitting one part of the country against the other.  It is no secret that the oilsands have played a big part in the recovery from the 2008 recession.  Maybe the NDP leader should rethink his position, after all his party only holds one seat in the prairies.  This is not the way to make friends or influence people.

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