Tom Mulcair is offering the most puzzling debut performance of any leader of the Opposition in recent times, says Rex.
Read a transcript of this Rex Murphy episode
Thomas Mulcair is offering the most puzzling debut performance of any leader of the opposition in recent times, and that includes Stockwell Day's famous excursion into water sports. Mr. Mulcair is in full battle mode with three Western provinces and three Premiers. The Premiers he demeaningly and condescendingly refers to as Harper's, quote "messengers" - it being understood that a messenger is a lowly calling indeed, and a Harper messenger: low-browed, villainous and shifty. He calls the West's prosperity the "Dutch disease" - which betrays an ignorance of both medicine and geography. Alberta isn't Holland, and high paid employment is NOT a disease. He calls Brad Wall, articulate, strong Premier of Saskatchewan … just a messenger of mean old Harper. Alison Redford --- the Premier of proud Alberta ..just Steven Harper's Purolator service. He thinks Christy Clark, the Premier of awesome, hospitable BC, is not significant - she's a messenger too - to "talk to." Mr. Mulcair evidently has a very low opinion of Premiers and a very high opinion of himself. Well, pride often comes before a fall … But worse by far is his deliberate, antagonizing and quarrelsome bent towards a whole section of the country … He seems to think he's not a leader of the opposition, but the leader of the opposition to the Alberta economy. Seems further to think that because Ontario and Quebec are no longer the master economies of Confederation .... it must be Alberta's fault. Blaming a prosperous region for the temporary weakness of central Canada is wilful shortsightedness. He hasn't seen the oil sands, but he goes on about them as if their were Satan's own source of sulphur. He might note that workers from every province are there, that they are part of the national economy. He might also note, cliched impressions to the contrary, they are not piling pollution into air, ground and water to the extravagant and careless degree he so casually implies. Albertans care for where they live every bit as much as Mr. Mulcair. It is not the business of the Opposition leader to excite divisions, to attack provinces, to demean the leaders of the other level of government in our Confederation. And Thomas Mulcair has not in his job long enough to even have a proper acquaintance with the Premier he dismisses, their provinces, OR ... yes .. their economies. Some modesty in partnership with some manners would go a long way here. But more to the point: why is Mr. Mulcair, so very early in the game, insulting Premiers, attacking the West, and setting up - if he continues this tack - the worse possible outcome: frictions within the Confederation between East and West, Quebec and Alberta, provinces and the federal government. It is the most divisive debut of any opposition leader I can recall and potentially very dangerous to the federation.. For The National, I'm Rex Murphy.