POLITICS

Harper: Mulcair Argued 'Against Canadian Jobs' In 2013 Trip To U.S.

09/18/2015 12:32 EDT | Updated 09/18/2015 12:59 EDT

Stephen Harper says the contentious trip Thomas Mulcair took to Washington two years ago was downright historic.

"Mr. Mulcair, you are the only leader in Canadian history to have gone to another country, you and your colleagues, to the United States to argue against Canadian jobs and against Canadian development projects," Harper charged Thursday at The Globe and Mail debate in Calgary.

The jab came amid a discussion of Canada's energy sector and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that has been stalled by U.S. President Barack Obama.

Harper argued Alberta's energy sector needs a federal government that is "on its side."

Mulcair has long said he opposes Keystone XL, but not because of environmental concerns. Rather, the NDP leader says the bulk of jobs created by the project would be south of the border.

thomas mulcair stephen harper

That was the same approach he took on the debate stage in the heart of oil country Thursday, arguing 40,000 Canadian jobs would be exported to the U.S. with Keystone.

"I want to create those 40,000 jobs in Canada," he said. "Let's add value to our natural resources here."

Mulcair said that under Harper's stewardship, Canada has not built "one kilometre of pipeline to tidewater." He said Tories have gutted environmental laws and left Canada without a "credible, thorough environmental assessment process" for pipeline projects.

Though the NDP leader said Harper views the environment and economy as "polar opposites," the Conservative leader relied on a familiar talking point.

"This is the first government in Canadian history that has actually been able to see a reduction in our greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time seeing the economy grow," he said. "And we're very proud of that."

FactsCan, a non-partisan political fact checker, has debunked that claim by pointing out that GHG emissions have actually risen since 2010. And while levels dropped between 2007 and 2009 — during the recession — that did not mark a historic first in Canada.

'With friends like Stephen Harper, Alberta doesn't need enemies'

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said Harper's approach of pretending there's a choice between the economy and the environment has failed Alberta.

"He talks about being the best friend that Alberta has ever had but he hasn't gotten pipelines built, he has made the oilsands an international pariah, and with friends like Stephen Harper, Alberta doesn't need enemies," Trudeau said.

But Trudeau also had a left jab for the NDP leader, saying that as Quebec's environment minister, Mulcair proposed bulk water exports.

"That's completely false," Mulcair shot back.

"Well, listen, look at your own record," Trudeau said.

"You look at the record," the NDP leader retorted.

Liberals released an 11-year-old clip last week of Mulcair arguing in the Quebec National Assembly that keeping water in river beds that might be exported in a sustainable fashion was a "quasi-religious" approach akin to saying all of Quebec's trees must never be cut.

Former Alberta premier called Mulcair's trip a 'betrayal'

In March 2013, Mulcair visited the U.S. capitol and New York, where he blasted the Conservative government's environmental record and expressed his desire to build pipelines in Canada first.

The move outraged then-Alberta premier Alison Redford, who told the Economic Club of Canada that it was a "betrayal of Canada's long-term economic interests."

Mulcair was unapologetic, telling reporters at the time that the NDP believes in taking care of Canada's own energy security first by moving product "from West to East."

Though Mulcair has expressed interest in TransCanada's Energy East project, he has stated in this campaign that Harper got the balance between the environment and economy all wrong.

The NDP leader, like Trudeau, is vehemently opposed to the Northern Gateway pipeline project.

The Liberal leader supports the Keystone pipeline. He too visited Washington in 2013 but notably said he would not air his grievances with Harper while in a different country.

"For me to criticize my prime minister while I'm on a foreign visit is just not the way I was raised," he told The Globe and Mail.

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