Martin calls Mulcair’s Dutch disease comments simplistic

Ex-PM says high value of the dollar can't be blamed on any one industry.

June 12, 2012   by CANADIAN PRESS

EDMONTON: Former prime minister Paul Martin added his name to the list of leaders unhappy with recent remarks by federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair about Alberta’s oil sands.

Martin says it’s overly simplistic for Mulcair to blame Canada’s prosperous oil sands for artificially elevating the dollar and hurting manufacturing exports.

“To simplify what is a really important issue like that really does nobody a service,” Martin said.

The 74-year-old former Liberal party leader was in Edmonton to receive an honorary doctorate of laws from the University of Alberta.

Mulcair has been sharply criticized by western premiers, including Alberta’s Alison Redford, for saying that Canada is afflicted with the so-called “Dutch disease” phenomenon.

The theory is that the roaring oil sands economy is pumping up the dollar, making manufacturing exports from central Canada less attractive and thereby driving away business.

The premiers have called the remarks divisive and ill-informed. Martin – a former federal finance minister – agreed.

“The reason our dollar is high is we have a good balance sheet, and we want that,” he said, noting the ebbs and flows of finances depend on a number of intertwined factors and can’t be blamed on any one industry.

Another ex-prime minister, Brian Mulroney, has also taken a run at Mulcair. He recently called the remarks divisive and unworthy of a man who aspires to govern from coast to coast to coast.

Mulcair has already taken steps to mend fences with the West, making a trip to the oil sands two weeks ago.

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