Anti-Alberta comments by Liberal leadership frontrunner Justin Trudeau and MP David McGuinty likely had an impact on a tight byelection race in Calgary, Premier Alison Redford said Tuesday.
“It may have had an impact — I would expect it probably did had an impact,” she said after speaking at a conference on public-private partnerships in Toronto.
“But more importantly, on a moving-forward basis, I would just suggest to anyone in politics that it’s better to be constructive than divisive.”
Trudeau apologized last week for comments he made in a 2010 interview, where he blamed Canada’s problems on Albertans controlling “our community and socio-democratic agenda.”
McGuinty — brother of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty — resigned his critic’s portfolio after being quoted calling Alberta MPs “shills” for the oil industry and suggesting they “go home” and run for town council if they want to be so parochial.
The comments, particularly those by Trudeau, appeared to stall Liberal momentum in Calgary Centre.
The party’s hopes for an upset victory in that riding were dashed Monday night when Conservative Joan Crockatt won by a margin of just over a thousand votes over Liberal challenger Harvey Locke.
The divisive comments likely influenced voters in Alberta, who want leaders who can show that they can work with people across the country, Redford said.
Anyone seeking a national leadership role shouldn’t be promoting divisions among Canadians, she added.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Liberals are moribund in Western Canada. There are a number of “interesting” candidates in the Liberal leadership race, Redford said.
“There’s always room, I think, for new ideas and new perspectives and we’ll see what happens in the next year,” she said. “I think it’ll be an exciting year for politics in Canada.”
But the Tory premier, who represents a Calgary riding, said she was happy to see Crockatt win the byelection.
Crockatt will be a “fantastic” MP, having been a strong advocate for the community, the city and the province, Redford said.
“And I think she’s very thoughtful with respect to issues on the national stage,” she added.
“From my perspective, I see it as electing someone who will be able to participate in a national conversation.”