Preston Manning speaks to audience at the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation's 9th Annual Conference on Public Policy in Edmonton, Nov. 23, 2012.
Credits: Perry Mah/EDMONTON SUN/QMI AGENCY
EDMONTON -- Following Justin Trudeau's controversial remarks about Alberta, former Reform Party leader Preston Manning says those in the federal arena should be "careful" not to conjure up east-versus-west tensions.
Trudeau has since apologized for the comments -- made in an interview two years ago -- that Canada was struggling because Alberta continues to control the "social democratic agenda" and there should be more Quebecers in power.
The comments work against progress made in mending tensions between east and west, Manning said.
"I think people particularly in the federal arena should be careful not to stir them up," he said prior to speaking at a Trudeau Foundation event here Friday.
"Canada's got a higher state of unity right now than it has had in a very long time.
"It's not in the interest of any of us to disturb that."
Meanwhile, Manning's left-wing counterpart was more forgiving of the comments by the man who is trying to take leadership of the Liberal Party.
Former party leader Michael Ignatieff says there's not a politician in the world who hasn't put his foot in his mouth at some point, himself included. But, he said, the comments are part of a long-standing tension between east and west.
"When I was in politics, I used to say -- and this didn't make me popular in Ontario -- the whole centre of gravity has shifted west to Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C.," Ignatieff said following his seminar at the Trudeau Foundation event.
"Alberta is as diverse, multicultural, environmentally progressive and as socially progressive as the rest of the country.
"We've got to get rid of all our prejudices against each other. The east has bad feelings about the west, the west has bad feelings about the east -- and all of it is about 40 years out of date."
While Ignatieff thinks the Liberals are doing well enough in the polls for the comments to slide by, Manning disagreed.
"I think (the comments) will (hurt) because at the end of the day the Liberals will not respect Alberta's resource partnerships with its energy industries," Manning said.
"Those type of comments don't help if the idea is trying to reduce that fear."