Win for Alberta's Wildrose would be bad for Canadian unity says Quebec MP

Quebec MP Denis Coderre says a victory by the Wildrose party in Alberta would be bad for national unity.
Federal Liberal MP Denis Coderre talks to reporters after his re-election in May, 2011.

 Quebec MP Denis Coderre says a victory by the Wildrose party in Alberta would be bad for national unity.   

Conservative MPs were being much more circumspect in the hours before election results were known.   

Coderre, a key organizer for the federal Liberal party in Quebec, says the prospect is "scary" of Danielle Smith's right-wing party winning Monday's election in the country's resource powerhouse.   

"It will have a major impact on national unity," Coderre said.   

Smith has questioned why Alberta pays so much equalization to other provinces, specifically Quebec, and promises to "aggressively address" transfer payments with Ottawa if she becomes premier.   

Recent changes to the federal health-care transfer formula by the Harper Conservatives will benefit Alberta at the expense of other provinces, starting in 2014. The shift to a straight per-capita formula will specifically hurt Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, according to figures in the most recent Quebec budget.   

Coderre says Smith and Wildrose use the same divide-and-conquer tactics as Prime Minister Stephen Harper and that goes against what he calls a Canadian value of sharing and helping one another.   

"We have to be very, very careful to have a Wildrose government because when the leader's saying, 'well, Quebec is complaining all the time, we shouldn't give them (equalization), they have to understand where the money's coming from ...' Hello? What's that?" said Coderre.

"Everybody at one moment of their history was there to help each other. So I think we have to remember what Canadians stand for."

Smith's tough talk on provincial rights has been compared to the famous "firewall" letter co-written by Harper in 2001 before he returned to elected politics.   

Coderre predicted that a backlash against a Wildrose victory could influence the next Quebec provincial election, which must take place before the end of next year. 

NDP MP Pat Martin of Winnipeg also suggested that Smith "better tread carefully before she upsets the federation's apple cart."

The prime minister has told Conservative MPs they are free to support provincial candidates of their choice in their local ridings but they are forbidden from backing any province-wide campaign.

Conservative MPs in Ottawa, whose political movement has many links to the Wildrose campaign, called Coderre's assertion "ridiculous."

"Whatever happens is going to be best for Alberta and best for Canada," said Brian Jean, the Conservative MP from Fort MacMurray.

Maxime Bernier, a junior minister from Quebec in Harper's cabinet, said the Conservative government's "open federalism" has secured constitutional peace in Quebec. 

"The people from Alberta can vote for the party they want and we'll respect their decision," said Bernier. "That's democracy and that's good for Alberta, it's good for everybody in Quebec."   

In public, Conservative MPs were careful not to predict a Wildrose victory as Albertans went to the polls.   

"I don't know what the elected government of Alberta will do," said MP Mike Lake of Edmonton when told of Coderre's concerns.