Brad Wall calls Dalton McGuinty 'divisive' on oilsands

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says his Ontario counterpart's comments on the oilsands are divisive and don't help the relationship between east and west.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says his Ontario counterpart's comments on the oilsands are divisive and don't help the relationship between east and west.

Dalton McGuinty said Monday that a strong oilsands industry means a high Canadian dollar, which hurts Ontario's manufacturing and export sectors. He said Ontario would prefer a lower dollar over a growing oil and gas industry in Western Canada.

Wall said Saskatchewan, which is Canada's second-largest oil producer, has a bone to pick with that kind of talk.

"I just don't think it's helpful when any of us say that the energy sector in this case is bad for another part of the country, because it may or may not have an impact on the dollar," Wall said Tuesday at the provincial legislature.

"He could be saying the same thing about our potash. We're the world's number 1 exporter of potash. We get paid in U.S. dollars. When we export resources, that has an impact on the dollar. It's true of potash, it's true of oil and I think that those two industries are positive for the country.

"They're good for Ontario, they're good for us, and I think the remarks are unnecessarily divisive that Mr. McGuinty has made," he added.

Wall acknowledged that Saskatchewan loses millions in revenue each time the dollar goes up.

But he said it would be a big mistake to confuse a low dollar with productivity and competitiveness. There are other problems for economies than just the high dollar, he said.

"There's no question the dollar has an impact on governments. I get that, I know where the premier is coming from there," he said. "I think you can make those two comments exclusively though. I think you can comment on the challenges of the high dollar and maybe regret any impact that the resource sector has on it, but then also herald the fact that the resource sector also provides opportunity and investment for all Canadians."

Alberta Premier Alison Redford said Monday that the reason the Canadian dollar is high is partly because the United States has been going through some economic difficulties.

She also pointed out that McGuinty's remarks clash with a study by the Canadian Energy Research Institute, which says Ontario enjoys the lion's share of oilsands benefits outside Alberta.

The Calgary-based think-tank suggests the oilsands will create $63 billion in economic spinoffs in Ontario and create 65,000 jobs over 25 years. It also points to smaller economic benefits for and thousands of jobs created in British Columbia and Quebec.

Wall also said people shouldn't be ashamed that Canada is "an emerging energy superpower" that supplies oil and uranium to the world.

"I would hope that all Canadians would be proud of the fact that we are producers of energy, that we do so in a way that's as sustainable as possible," said Wall.

"Name one other energy power in the world that invests as much as this country does, with more needed on our part, in terms of reducing the environmental challenges related to energy development or in reducing the CO2 footprint. And some would say, 'Well, you're not doing enough.' But there aren't very many that are doing more."