Speaking on CBC's Alberta@Noon Wednesday, Premier Jim Prentice told host Donna McElligott that "in terms of who is responsible, we need only look in the mirror. Basically, all of us have had the best of everything and have not had to pay for what it costs."
Within hours, the comment found a second life on Twitter, trending under the hashtag #PrenticeBlamesAlbertans.
NDP Leader Rachel Notely said it was galling for the premier to put the blame on Albertans. As Alberta’s governing party for the past four decades, she said the responsibility for the financial crisis was squarely on the Tories.
“It took me a minute, a few minutes actually, to really process it,” she said.
“I was really quite surprised that he would come out with something that was so insulting and so disconnected from the reality in Alberta.”
She called on Prentice to apologize for the comment.
Alberta’s Official Opposition joined in the calls for an apology.
“At a time many Albertans are worried about the value of their home plummeting, keeping their job or being able to make ends meet, Mr. Prentice’s comments blaming Albertans for being directly at fault for the PC government’s gross fiscal mismanagement shows how deeply out-of-touch this 44-year-old government has become,” Heather Forsyth, the interim leader of the Wildrose, wrote in a statement.
The premier was in a cabinet meeting Thursday morning and has not responded to requests for comment.
The opposition parties' move shouldn’t come as a surprise, said political analyst Paul McLoughlin.
“I don’t think [Prentice] intended it to come out the way it’s been spun by the Opposition, but he’s given them incredible fodder to work with,” he said Thursday morning.
“I can see where Prentice’s thinking got there, but it is not in any way helpful to the kinds of messages he’s trying to move forwards in terms of how to deal with the deficit. I don’t think he’s been helpful to himself.”
McLoughlin said the comment seems to follow on a pattern seen during the Alison Redford campaign, where the political culture often sought to put blame elsewhere.
What appears to differentiate Prentice’s campaign, he added, was the sense that it was time for Albertans to forgo living large and "to get back to the [Canadian] average."
"I don't think I've ever heard any Albertan premier ever talk about Albertans and what Albertans do being 'average' and I think it goes a little against the political culture in Alberta," McLoughlin said.
“There’s some bumps in the road to the election,” he added.