Ontario premier on defensive after suggesting high "preto-dollar" bad for Ontario manufacturing.
March 1, 2012
by The Canadian Press
TORONTO: Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty tried Wednesday to turn down the heat generated by his comments earlier in the week about preferring a lower dollar to a growing oil and gas sector in Western Canada.
McGuinty admitted he was “a bit surprised” by the extent of the blowback from his comments Monday, when he said Canada’s high “petro-dollar” was bad for Ontario manufacturers and exporters.
His remarks were quickly condemned by Alberta Premier Alison Redford and Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall, who said the Ontario premier was being “unnecessarily divisive.”
“I think I should clarify … we are very, very proud of the work that is being done by Canadians in every province and territory to strengthen our country,” said McGuinty.
“We have a strong sense of partnership with Canadians from coast to coast to coast.”
Although he hasn’t apologized for Monday’s comments, there was a hint McGuinty regretted having said that given a choice between a lower dollar or a growing oil and gas sector in the West, he’d take the lower dollar.
“It can be difficult in this kind of context to convey exactly what you want to say,” said McGuinty. “I work in real time, so sometimes I may not self-edit before I go to press, so to speak, unlike the luxury you good people enjoy.”
Meanwhile, the Loonie hit a 5 and a half month high Wednesday, reaching 101.31 cents US.
McGuinty noted he was one of 10 children growing up, comparing his family to Canada’s 10 provinces and said each has its individual strength.
“I want to assure Canadians living in other parts of the country that we’re going to continue to do our part here in Ontario as committed Canadians to strengthen our national economy,” he added.
Ontario complains the federal government helps subsidize Alberta’s oilsands and energy projects in other provinces, such as Newfoundland and Labrador, but offers nothing to help Ontario shut down coal-fired generation and switch to more wind and solar power.
McGuinty said he and Redford have talked about ways of including Ontario in the federal energy strategy.
“I think where we can make common cause is if we talk about a national energy strategy,” he said. “I’d like that to officially include a clean energy strategy and the work that we’re doing here in Ontario. I’d like to broaden the vision so it’s one that we can all share, right across the country.”
McGuinty wouldn’t say if he’s asking Alberta to publicly support Ontario’s push to manufacture industrial wind turbines and solar panels as part of its switch to a new, green-energy economy.
The Canadian Energy Research Institute says Ontario enjoys the lion’s share of oilsands benefits outside Alberta. The Calgary-based think-tank predicts the oilsands will create $63 billion in economic spinoffs and 65,000 jobs in Ontario over 25 years, along with smaller economic benefits for British Columbia and Quebec.
©The Canadian Press