Federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair is getting his first look at the Alberta oilsands Thursday.
Mulcair, who recently caused a stir by blaming the oilsands for a decline in Canada's manufacturing sector, is touring the Suncor Energy site in northern Alberta, visiting the mine and getting an overview on the tailings pond reclamation process.
Mulcair is also visiting Fort McMurray and meeting with Melissa Blake, mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
Mulcair plans to travel to Edmonton where he will meet with Alberta Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk on Thursday afternoon. Alberta Premier Alison Redford is in Virginia to attend the Bilderberg conference.
"We're hoping to continue working on the issues of sustainable development," Mulcair said on Wednesday in Ottawa. "We have a view that the way we're doing things right now doesn't internalize the costs. We're not applying the basic rule of polluter-pay."
Redford, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and B.C. Premier Christy Clark have criticized Mulcair for stating that the oilsands have created a high Canadian dollar, which in turn has hurt the country's manufacturing sector, largely based in Central Canada. Redford has called Mulcair's remarks "divisive and ill-informed."
On Wednesday night, the Alberta premier released a short videotaped statement about Mulcair's visit.
"Following Mr. Mulcair's visit to Alberta's oilsands, I hope that going forward he recognizes the value of our natural resources to the Canadian economy and the continued commitment of my government to develop these resources in an environmentally sustainable way," Redford said.
Mulcair will be accompanied on his visit by MPs Peter Julian, the NDP's natural resources critic, Megan Leslie, deputy leader and environment critic, and the only NDP MP in Alberta, Linda Duncan from Edmonton-Strathcona.