OTTAWA – Winnipeg South Centre NDP candidate Matt Henderson believes Canada has a responsibility to the planet to seriously question whether any more of the oilsands should be developed.

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OTTAWA – Winnipeg South Centre NDP candidate Matt Henderson believes Canada has a responsibility to the planet to seriously question whether any more of the oilsands should be developed.

Henderson is the second NDP candidate since the election began to sound off against the oilsands and it is sure to cause another furor.

On Aug. 7, noted author Linda McQuaig suggested Canada might have to stop developing the oilsands in Alberta.

Henderson, a teacher at St. John’s Ravenscourt, said in an interview with University of Winnipeg radio station CKUW Aug. 10 that with all the oil spills and pipeline accidents it’s time society questioned whether it's worth it.

"At what point do we as a society say, OK, that’s enough, let’s leave stuff in the ground, and we won’t be bullied by people who say, ‘Well, we’re gonna lose jobs,’ because I think we can be really, really innovative and creative in terms of how we create energy," Henderson is quoted as saying in a transcript of the show.

He told the Free Press today he doesn't understand why it's controversial to question "our existence within the biosphere."

"If we just go blindly and see economic growth as the only activity on this planet, that's controversial," Henderson said. "If you question it you're labelled a radical but I think it's radical not to."

Henderson's opponent, Liberal Jim Carr, said he is not a fan of divisive politics which pit one thing against the other.

Carr said he believes you can work on responsible and sustainable resource development and work towards renewable energy at the same time.

Incumbent Conservative MP Joyce Bateman was not immediately available for comment.

Henderson's comments have potential to cause grief for the NDP, which is hoping for possible gains in Alberta and Saskatchewan where resource development is a big concern, and even in other parts of the country where pipeline development is a factor.

Comments made by McQuaig Aug. 7 on CBC's Power and Politics were explosive in the campaign and were jumped on by both the Conservatives and Liberals as a sign the NDP is against further resource development in Canada.

McQuaig said a lot of the oilsands oil may have to stay in the ground if we’re going to meet our climate change targets.

She said Canada needs a climate change accountability system and a proper environmental review process for pipelines.

McQuaig, a journalist and author, is seeking to unseat incumbent Liberal Chrystia Freeland in one of the most Liberal seats in Canada.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper addressed the McQuaig comments head on two days after she made them, taking time during a national security announcement to blast the NDP on its pipeline agenda.

"That is the NDP’s not-so-hidden agenda on development," Harper said. "This is a party that has opposed every single one of these projects. This is a party where the leader actually went out of the country to lobby against Canadian projects."

He was referring to a trip to Washington, D.C., NDP Leader Tom Mulcair made in 2013 where he met with senior democrats and then asserted Canadians didn’t want the Keystone Pipeline in Canada either. The NDP attempted to distance itself from McQuaig’s assertion, saying she was citing a report in the journal Nature. Natural resources critic Malcolm Allen said keeping the oilsands in the ground wasn’t his party’s position.

"The NDP believes that developing our natural resources and lowering our greenhouse gas emissions can go hand-in-hand [and that] Mr. Harper has gotten the balance wrong," Allen said in a written statement on Aug.9. "We can grow our oil sector and reduce carbon pollution."

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca