Thomas Mulcair came close to dropping the T word here Thursday, but on a day devoted to conciliation he saved himself at the last second.
In his first-ever visit to the Alberta oilsands as NDP leader, Mulcair was about to substitute “tar” for “oil” when he hastily corrected himself.
Mulcair smiled as he recovered from his almost slip of using the word “tarsands.”
“They’re bitumen sands because the chemicals are neither oil nor tar,” he said at a news conference hours after being taken on a tour of the mine and tailings pond reclamation process by Suncor Energy of its site in northern Alberta.
“If removing that linguistic impediment can make the conversation easier, I’m not going to keep it in place intentionally,” he said after the near slip of the tongue. “Unfortunately a linguistic cleanup doesn’t change anything about what we’re talking about in terms of the ecosystems.”
Mulcair created a furor among three Western premiers with his view that the resource-driven economies in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia — most notably the massive oilsands projects — have inflated the Canadian dollar. That in turn, he said, hurts other sectors in different regions of the country, particularly manufacturing in Quebec and Ontario.
Mulcair has come under fire for using the phrase “Dutch disease,” which explains how a country’s currency rises when there is high international demand for natural resources. The three Western premiers have condemned Mulcair’s comments, saying that he is using wedge politics to divide the country.