The Huffington Post Canada's Ottawa Bureau Chief Althia Raj joined CBC's At Issue panel on "The National" Thursday night to debate Thomas Mulcair's controversial Dutch disease comments and the politics of the oilsands.
Raj joined Chantal Hebert, Bruce Anderson and the National Post's John Ivison (Andrew Coyne was away) for the debate.
Anderson and Ivison argued that Mulcair's assertion that the oilsands are keeping the dollar high at the expense of manufacturing exports was a misstep that will likely hurt him with voters. Hebert and Raj, meanwhile, maintained that Mulcair's play could help him in southern Ontario, where the manufacturing industry has been hammered during the economic downturn. Major gains in Ontario are a necessity if the NDP hopes to win the next election.
The panel also debated the Tories' recent focus on foreign funding for environmental charities that attack resource development. All agreed the talking point is largely a distraction from the government's moves to overhaul the environmental assessment process and focus on more intensive resource development.
Rex Murphy also took time Thursday night to criticize Mulcair for his oilsands comments.
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Murphy slammed Mulcair for playing the economic downturn in the East off the resource boom in the West.
"We do not want to go there, and the Opposition leader might do well to hold off on these type of comments until he's actually visited the oilsands," Murphy said. "This game of playing one part of the country against another ... is of no value to anyone."
You can learn more about the development of Canada's oil industry in the slideshow below.