05/07/2012 05:14 EDT | Updated 07/07/2012 05:12 EDT

Sask. premier slams Mulcair over 'Dutch disease' comments

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is accusing federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair of dividing Canadians with his comments about the economy and energy.

In a recent interview, Mulcair said the resource sector in western Canada is artificially driving up the dollar, making it tough on eastern manufacturers and exporters.

Speaking on the CBC Radio program The House, Mulcair compared the current Canadian economic situation to the so-called "Dutch disease."

That's a term coined by The Economist magazine explaining the collapse of the Dutch manufacturing sector, after development of the oil industry pushed up the Netherlands' currency in the 1960s.

Wall first expressed his disapproval on Twitter: "Thomas Mulcair calls the strength of our resource sector a "disease" ... Resources have been the cure not the problem, NDP."

Later, speaking to reporters, Wall accused Mulcair of pitting eastern voters against the west.

"I think it's very, very divisive," Wall said.

"For someone who aspires to be prime minister to label a certain sector of our economy that's actually creating jobs — creating jobs through exports and through their development for all of the country — that he would label this as a problem, is very disconcerting and I hope he changes his tune."

Mulcair said he's not against developing the oilsands — but it should be sustainable development where the polluter and the users pay the environmental costs.

"We've hollowed out the manufacturing sector," he said. "In six years since the Conservatives arrived, we've lost 500,000 good-paying, manufacturing jobs … more than half of them because we're not internalizing the environmental costs."

Mulcair added that his analysis looked generally at the impact of resource exports on the dollar and manufacturing — insisting he wasn't specifically targeting Alberta or the oilsands industry.