Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Trudeau taking heat in Quebec

Anti-Alberta remarks looked upon poorly

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MONTREAL -- Justin Trudeau has come under criticism for his comments about Alberta in the place where he made them in an interview two years ago -- Quebec.

The Liberal MP and leadership candidate blamed the country's problems on Albertans controlling the political agenda in a 2010 French-language television show that resurfaced this week.

The interview didn't make any waves in Quebec when it first aired but some pundits now argue Trudeau was out of line.

One newspaper columnist hypothesized about what would happen if the tables were turned, and Quebec were on the receiving end of such comments.

Yves Boisvert of Montreal's La Presse said Quebecers would be outraged if another high-profile politician made similar statements about their own province.

"We can easily imagine the howls we'd make if a contender for the leadership of a federal party spoke in such generalizing terms about Quebecers," Boisvert said in a column on the newspaper's website.

Boisvert suggested that Trudeau supporters should "start to ask serious questions about the quality of his political judgment, and his judgment in general."

To lump all Albertans together, as traditionally conservative as the province may be, demonstrates a "lack of prudence," Boisvert said.

A writer for the magazine L'Actualite said the comments could hurt Trudeau for a long time to come as he tries to make inroads in Western Canada.

"In one fell swoop, this particular interview revives doubts shared by many in Western Canada about the federal Liberals," Manon Cornellier said in a blog post.

"What should they believe? What Justin Trudeau said only two years ago or what he's saying now, as he seeks their support in his bid for the Liberal Party of Canada."

In the interview on Les francs-tireurs, Trudeau said that "Canada isn't doing well right now because it's Albertans who control our community and socio-democratic agenda."

He also said Canada would be better served if there were more Quebecers than Albertans in charge.

Trudeau apologized on Friday, saying his comments were meant to be directed at Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who rose to power as an MP from Calgary.

His comment about the lack of Quebecers in power, he said, were an attempt to urge voters in Quebec to support a national party rather than the Bloc Quebecois.

The Conservatives have pounced on the old interview in the past few days as they battle with the Liberals in a hotly contested Calgary byelection.

While Trudeau has taken heat for the interview, some Quebecers believe it may in fact boost his popularity in their own province, where Harper's Conservatives remain unpopular.

"His comment could help him win votes here," a reader said on the La Presse website.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 25, 2012 A6

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