OTTAWA – Treasury Board President Tony Clement says he hopes NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair’s planned visit to northern Alberta will stop him from "dissing" the oilsands.
"I hope he sees things with a critical but open eye and I think he will be impressed," Clement told reporters Wednesday in Calgary.
"If he comes back with the same rhetoric, I don’t think he’s given the oilsands a fair shake."
The NDP confirmed Mulcair is scheduled to tour the oilsands and Fort McMurray next week – a first for the newly minted NDP leader.
Clement said his own visit to the region about four years ago showed him "the modern day reality of the oilsands."
The Conservative government has been hammering the Opposition leader for weeks over his theory the resource boom is a cause of the manufacturing sector woes in central Canada.
Mulcair’s so-called Dutch disease diagnosis has angered Western premiers, who attacked him for the comments over Twitter and in media interviews.
The New Democrat leader has refused to back down from his comments, and Clement warned the Conservatives won’t be giving him a free ride.
"He raised that debate first. We cannot let that debate go unmatched with our countervision," he said.
"This may be a debate that goes on three and a half years to the next election."