Trudeau apologizes for saying Alberta [oil sector] is ‘controlling our community’ – by Ian Bailey (Globe and Mail – November 24, 2012)

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Justin Trudeau, stinging from his first major blunder in his bid to lead the federal Liberal Party, was forced to apologize for comments in which he criticized the dominance of Alberta politicians in Canada and touted the virtues of past prime ministers from Quebec.

“I am sorry I said what I did,” he told reporters Friday in Vancouver during a hastily called news conference at the end of a three-day trip to British Columbia. He added that it was “wrong to use a shorthand of Alberta when I was really talking about Mr. Harper’s government.”

Asked whether Canada would be better off with a prime minister from Quebec, Mr. Trudeau replied, “I think Canada is better off with a prime minister who chooses to pull people together and not play up insecurities and divisions and regional resentments any chance they can get.”

Mr. Trudeau also said his 2010 comments were focused on telling Quebeckers how important it was to stop voting for the Bloc Québécois and instead to start engaging with the “national discourse” in Canada and voting for a national party.

The apology came in the same week as Liberal energy critic David McGuinty was forced to resign for urging Conservative politicians in Ottawa to “go back to Alberta.”

Now, Mr. Trudeau and Mr. McGuinty have become a chorus – at least to federal Conservatives trying to bolster support ahead of a Monday by-election in Calgary Centre, where the party’s candidate was losing ground to the Liberal.

Dan Hilton, executive director of the Conservative Party, issued a fundraising letter lumping Mr. McGuinty’s and Mr. Trudeau’s comments together in a bid to solicit donations. “It’s obvious that the old Liberal tradition of bashing Western Canada is still alive,” Mr. Hilton wrote. “I want to make sure that all Canadians understand how destructive and divisive these ideas are. But it is expensive to do so.”

At the same time, leadership rival Martha Hall Findlay, a former MP, suggested Mr. Trudeau’s comments were out of step with the views of Liberals across Canada – that his remarks, along with Mr. McGuinty’s, were unhelpful to a party that is trying to rebuild.

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