NDP leader Tom Mulcair addresses the Federation of Canadian Municipalities convention in Saskatoon. (Liam Richards/The Canadian Press)

Federal New Democrat leader Tom Mulcair is shooting back at critics who accuse him of creating an east-west divide.

Mulcair spoke Friday morning at a Federation of Canadian Municipalities gathering in Saskatoon.

The NDP leader recently spoke about the connections between Canadian manufacturing industries, a high dollar and oil. 

Mulcair told the people at the Saskatoon meeting, mostly political leaders from large cities, that it was wrong to suggest his comments were meant to be divisive.

"Some people were trying to change the message," Mulcair said. "Setting up an east-west straw man.  Saying that that's what it was about.  But that's not the case.  Since the beginning this has been about sustainable development."

Mulcair said his political opponents have been trying to put their own spin on what he has said.

"Since the beginning this has been about sustainable development," he said. "Some people have tried to turn that into 'Oh they're attacking us personally'.  Having seen that sort of exercise before in my home province, I'm immune to it."

The NDP chief has been lambasted by western premiers and the federal Conservatives for suggesting oil exports raise the value of the Canadian dollar, which in turn hurts the economy in other parts of the country

He also told the mayors that he wants the federal government to reveal its plans for funding cities.

With files from CBC's Kathy Fitzpatrick and The Canadian Press