Justin Trudeau issued an apology today, saying sorry for anti-Alberta comments he made in 2010.
"I'm sorry I said what I said," The Globe and Mail reported him as saying Friday. "I'm here to serve."
In an interview two years ago, Trudeau told the Tele-Quebec program Les francs-tireurs (The Sharp Shooters),"Canada isn't doing well right now because it's Albertans who control our community and socio-democratic agenda. It doesn't work."
He went on in the interview to suggest the best premiers come from Quebec.
"Certainly when we look at the great prime ministers of the 20th Century, those that really stood the test of time, they were MPs from Quebec. This country -- Canada -- it belongs to us."
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Despite the apology, Trudeau continues to suggest the quotes were somehow misinterpreted.He insists he was attempting to use a "shorthand" to criticize Prime Minister Stephen Harper, not the people of Alberta. The governing Conservatives have seized on the video to attack Trudeau, particularly in Calgary, where a byelection scheduled for next week has become more competitive than expected.
According to the National Post, Trudeau spokesman Gerald Butts defended the comments to the CBC Thursday evening, saying they were taken out of context.
"It was a very long interview in French... What he was saying was that Quebers see a government that doesn't share their values."
"It doesn't have to do with the fact that they are from Alberta. It is due to the fact that they are right wing and negative," Butts said.
Trudeau's campaign issued also issued a statement saying the Conservatives "are clearly concerned that they are losing the byelection in Calgary Centre and are resorting to smear campaigns to stop their slide."
"Justin knows that Calgary, Alberta and all of western Canada are at the very heart of Canada's future. That's a message he has taken to every part of the country, from the beginning of the campaign. We need to get beyond the divisive politics of the Conservatives and include all Canadians."
(With files from CP)
CORRECTION: A previous version of the story misspelled the name of Gerald Butts.