Alberta Politics

Liberals cringe and Conservatives jeer at David McGuinty’s anti-Alberta rant.

MP David McGuinty (right), sent by the Liberal Party to a tour the Canadian Arctic in order to avoid making any further controversial statements that may hurt their chances of winning the Calgary-Centre by-election.

Comments made yesterday by Ontario Liberal Member of Parliament David McGuinty undoubtably triggered a collective “W^@* THE F#*%” moment in Calgary-Centre Liberal candidate Harvey Locke‘s by-election campaign headquarters.

David McGuinty Ontario Liberal MP
David McGuinty

The Liberal campaign in Calgary-Centre is riding high from a visit by superstar leadership candidate Justin Trudeau and two recent polls showing them in the statistical dead-heat of a three-way race between Conservative Joan Crockatt and Green Chris Turner.

In a heated debate on the floor of the House of Commons, Mr. McGuinty, who announced yesterday that he would not run for the Liberal Party leadership, ranted against Conservative MPs, who he described as “very, very small-p provincial individuals who are jealously guarding one industrial sector, picking the fossil fuel business and the oilsands business specifically, as one that they’re going to fight to the death for.

Mr. McGuity followed up by telling the Conservatives to “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.

Almost immediately after the comments were made, right-wing SunTV jumped into attack mode, giving Conservative MPs an instant soapbox to stand on and denounce the Liberal politician.

Joan Crockatt Conservative Calgary-Centre By-Election
Joan Crockatt

Ms. Crockatt, who has done her best to avoid engaging with the media since the by-election campaign began, wasted no time issuing a statement on her Facebook Page denouncing the Ontario politician. With one week before the by-election ends, Conservatives in Calgary-Centre are hoping to use Mr. McGuinty’s rant to divert attention away from criticism and internal dissent caused by its poorly orchestrated local campaign.

There is no doubt the comments made by Mr. McGuinty’s comments were  politically ill-informed and just plain “dumb”, but they seem to be par for the course what in what has become a disgustingly hyper-partisan political Ottawa dominated by a Prime Minister Stephen Harper,‘s Conservative majority in both houses of parliament.

It is important to remember that controversial comments are not limited to the benches of the third-place Liberal Party. Let us not forget Conservative Science Minister Gary Goodyear, who told reporters that he did not believe in evolution, or Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, who once said that anyone who opposed the Conservative government’s invasive internet privacy legislation was siding with pedophiles.

And we cannot forget the time when Calgary-West Conservative MP Rob Anders used an official Government of Canada media conference to endorse right-wing politician Ted Morton‘s bid for Alberta’s Progressive Conservative leadership.

Rob Anders Calgary
Rob Anders

Mr. McGuinty’s heated comments against Alberta’s federal representatives (excluding Edmonton-Strathcona New Democrat MP Linda Duncan, I assume) remind me of the anti-Quebec rhetoric espoused by the western-based Reform Party from the late 1980s and 1990s, which has continues to dog the Conservative Party in Quebec.

In terms of simple electoral math, Mr. McGuinty’s gaffe has done his party no favours, especially with the opportunity presented to them in the Calgary-Centre by-election.

By my count, since the by-election was called, at least nine of the thirty-five Liberal MPs in Ottawa have visited the riding, including Mr. Trudeau and interim leader Bob Rae. The Liberal Party sees an opportunity in Calgary-Centre, but they should stop themselves from turning their attention away from Alberta if the votes are not in their favour on November 26.

With Alberta’s population expected to grow by at least 2 million over the next 30 years, the importance of the western province on Canada’s electoral map will only increase along with its already growing economic importance. Any federal political party aiming to build a truly national coalition that will succeed in the future will need to reach out to, rather than alienate, voters in Alberta.

11 replies on “Liberals cringe and Conservatives jeer at David McGuinty’s anti-Alberta rant.”

Very well said. McGuinty’s comments are parochial in their own right and highlight the east-west divide that Harper and Mulcair are perfectly willing to exploit. There is a great opportunity for Liberals to move past their post-Paul Martin bitumen-discomfort and set out a national vision for sustainable energy policies, particularly on the economic front. Trudeau’s unequivocal (subject to our laws of course) openness to foreign investment is an important step in that direction.

I also have to say that the typical Cons response of labeling the comments as “shameful” and “deeply offensive” is a tad rich for this Albertan’s blood.

I could not disagree more.

Look at the context. Mr. McGuinty did NOT go on an anti-Alberta rant. He was frustrated and went on an anti-Albertan MPs rant. And who can blame him?

I am not proud of the quality of MPs my Province sends to Ottawa. Frankly I am embarrassed by the quality of most of them. But that certainly does not mean that I am embarrassed or ashamed of my Province.

But you have fallen into the trap that the right wing has set – believing that a criticism of Albertan MPs is a criticism of Alberta.

Please, let’s avoid that sort of Provincial jingoism!

The incident was unfortunate, but even more unfortunate was the universal under the bus tossing. It could have been used as starting point for more mature discussion.

While McGuinty’s remarks were aimed at Alberta Cons MPs, they cannot end there. They must by their very nature apply equally to those who voted Con and those who volunteered on Con campaigns. They must also apply to the Con agenda of “leave the energy sector alone”. 66% of Albertan voters in 2011 supported the Cons and it is not a stretch to conclude that those same voters supported and continue to support the Con policy (or lack thereof) in the energy sector. Why? Most of us are smarter than we look. The majority of us rely on the energy sector for our livelihoods. The Cons weren’t going to take a hatchet to it. The Liberals were not clear although the smoke billowing from upgraders and ducks drowning in tailings in their national TV ads gave a pretty good idea. And the NDP’s stance is now very clear with Mulcair at the helm. Nobody has articulated a national vision for the energy sector and that failure will, I fear, be very negative for the country long-term. I could not agree with you more that there is an opportunity for mature discussion. The Liberal leadership candidates have a nice opening.

While Ontario Liberal MP Davis McGuinty was impolitic in his remarks, especially when he said Alberta Conservative MPs should “go back to Alberta:”, there is a thread of legitimacy in what he said.

There is a fundamental disagreement in this country about the role of an elected representative, whether in a provincial legislature or in the House of Commons. There are those who hold that the role of an MP is to represent his or her constituents in Ottawa; many of these are adherents of former Reform Party philosophy. However, there are others that hold that once in Ottawa, an MP should govern in the national interest, even if it diverges from the parochial interests of his or her constituents; the Liberals most certainly hold to this view, as do most New Democrats. The question of whether a parliamentarian should hew to his or her party line, or break from it when it conflicts with constituents’ views on a particular issue, is related to this, as party policies are often developed with a national perspective in mind.

The same applies at the provincial level, when province-wide interests, such a fiscal responsibility, conflict with local, parochial interests, such as a police college in Fort McLeod.

Oh yeah, I remember how all those dippers in Quebec got elected because they promoted national priorities over local ones. When it comes to electing MPs who promote national interests over provincial or local ones, Quebec is right at the forefront.
And I sure when the MPs from Ontario urge the government to do more for the auto industry, they’re talking about the national auto manufacturing industry, not just the one in Ontario.
McGuinty should have known exactly what was going to happen as soon as he opened his mouth and I really doubt he would have apologized or resigned had there not been a byelection in Calgary that polls show the Liberals actually have a chance at winning.
Local voters elect MPs and that’s everywhere not just in Alberta.

Liberals winning in Alberta? I have flying pigs for sale for you Alberta haters, rumor is, they can fly you all back to your beloved 340 billion in debt McDinky land Ontario. This Mcguinty guy looks like an extra off the set of The Shining, talks with the intelligence of another liberal hero, Justin, in other words a perfect liberal, just keep talking you liberals, it is the best antiseptic you can spew. It matters not where or what a liberal says, because real Albertans are to successful and intelligent to succumb to the liberal lobotomys all you transplants have had, when you all show up TO FIND WORK here, in evil Alberta. LOL.

I guess if you keep obsessing about Calgary Centre you don’t need to address the big issues of the week that have been explored in Question Period in the legislature. I guess that’s what they call selective journalism. Mayakovsky used to be good at this stuff in the 1920s

Pat: you just admitted that you voted CPC BECAUSE THEY ARE OIL COMPANY SHILLS!!! And yet you are upset at McGuinty for pointing this out? WTF?

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