OTTAWA - In the wake of Liberal MP David McGuinty's anti-Alberta comments this week, a 2010 interview with Liberal leadership hopeful Justin Trudeau raises the issue about whether that attitude is baked into the DNA of the federal Liberal party In November 2010, Trudeau told a Quebec television show that he was tired of Albertans running the country and that, whether it was Jean Chretien or Brian Mulroney, Canada is better off when Quebecers are running the country.
"Canada isn't doing well right now because it's Albertans who control our community and socio-democratic agenda. It doesn't work," Trudeau said in French to interviewer Patrick Lagace on the Tele-Quebec program Les francs-tireurs (The Straight Shooters).
Lagace then asked Trudeau if he thought Canada was "better served when there are more Quebecers in charge than Albertans?"
Trudeau replied: "I'm a Liberal, so of course I think so, yes. 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."
Trudeau specifically named prime ministers Pierre Trudeau, Chretien and Paul Martin but also included Progressive Conservative Mulroney on his list of great Quebec prime ministers of the last century.
Trudeau, who has been campaigning in Western Canada this week, did not respond to a request for an interview, but a statement from his campaign said the remarks were taken out of context.
“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," Trudeau spokesperson Kate Monfette said in an e-mailed statement.
“This is another reflection of the arrogance of the Liberal Party, its divisiveness,” Immigration Minister – and Alberta MP – Jason Kenney told reporters outside the House of Commons Thursday.
“It brings back for many Westerners the kind of arrogance of the National Energy Program which of course devastated the Western economy.”
Linda Duncan, the only NDP MP from Alberta, said it gives voters in her province another reason to reject the Liberals.
“I just find it unbelievable that an elected official could say that and have that kind of an attitude about our province,” Duncan said.
On Tuesday, McGuinty accused Conservative MPs from Alberta of "shilling" for the Alberta oil and gas industry.
"They are national legislators with a national responsibility," McGuinty told Sun Media in an interview Tuesday, "but they come across as very, very small-p provincial individuals who are jealously guarding one industrial sector ... the oilsands business specifically, as one that they're going to fight to the death for.
"They really should go back to Alberta and run either for municipal council in a city that's deeply affected by the oilsands business or go run for the Alberta legislature."
On Wednesday, McGuinty apologized for his comments and resigned his position as the Liberal natural resources critic.
-with files from Jessica Murphy and Daniel Proussalidis