'Let’s have the courage to do things differently'

The prepared text of Thomas Mulcair’s remarks yesterday on the launch of his leadership campaign.

Chers collègues, chers amis,

QUELLE AVENTURE !!!!!!!!!!!!

En 2006, Jack Layton m’a invité à titre de conférencier au Congrès du NPD à Québec.

Le sujet était le développement durable, un domaine que Jack connaissait intimement, et il souhaitait que je puisse partager avec les délégués du NPD la vision qui avait inspiré la Loi québécoise sur le développement durable que j’avais pilotée.

Jack knew that I had quit Cabinet on a question of principle that I had refused to sign an order in Council transferring lands in a Quebec Government park to private developers.

He explained to me that decades earlier his own grandfather had quit the Québec cabinet on a question of principle and the two of us connected.

Early in 2007, Jack, Olivia, Catherine and I had supper together at a restaurant in his old home town of Hudson.

Jack souhaitait que je devienne son Lieutenant Québécois.

He knew of my track record both as a public administrator and as a minister.

My insistence on rigorous enforcement of laws and regulations had been a hallmark of my mandates as President of the Office des professions du Québec and as Sustainable Development Minister and it was that drive and determination that he wanted me to bring to help achieve his vision for Québec.

When he ran for the leadership of the NDP in 2003, Jack had made it clear that Québec had to be made a priority if the NDP were to become a truly national party.

When he talked to me about running for the NDP in the Liberal bastion of Outremont in 2007, he laid out an ambitious plan to take the party to the next level and beyond into government.

Jack’s vision of a truly national social democratic movement, with real roots in and support from all regions of Canada is what inspired me to accept the challenge.

The events that led me to leave provincial politics convinced me more than ever that Canadians deserved a political party that could stand up to powerful interests – of all kinds – and not just cater to well-connected insiders and Party elites.

Under Jack Layton the NDP was that Party. The goal that we shared was to build here in Québec and across Canada, so that we could one day form a government that served only one interest: the public interest.

Jack may not be here to see that day, but thanks to him, that day will come.

Pendant cinq ans, nous avons travaillé coude à coude et sans relâche. J’étais avec Jack à Rimouski et à Sherbrooke, dans l’Outaouais et à Québec, en Mauricie et à Montréal.

Il m’a fait confiance et mon admiration pour son énergie, sa détermination et son leadership incroyable n’a cessé de grandir tout au long de notre étroite collaboration pour transformer son rêve en réalité.

We now have both the responsibility and the opportunity to achieve Jack Layton’s dream for us and for Canada.

Je ne vise pas à remplacer Jack Layton. Je souhaite lui succéder en continuant de construire sur ce qu’il a déjà bâti.

L’importance dans cette course à la chefferie n’est pas la provenance géographique du prochain chef comme certains le laissent entendre, mais plutôt de se poser la question suivante :

Qui est le mieux placé pour conduire le NPD vers le prochain niveau c’est-à-dire de permettre au NPD de former le gouvernement ?

We have a lot of work to do to get ready to take on Stephen Harper’s conservatives in the next election.

For the first time in our history, we have a Prime Minister who behaves as if he is the Master of Parliament instead of its servant.

This leadership race is about picking the person who is best placed to beat Stephen Harper in the next election. In order to defeat Stephen Harper we have to work on breakthroughs elsewhere while maintaining our support here in Quebec.

Ici, au Québec, le NPD a beaucoup d’arbres mais peu de racines. Dans d’autres provinces, le NPD a des racines profondes… mais plus d’arbres.

Je demande donc aux gens qui nous ont fait l’honneur de voter NPD de poser un geste additionnel et de prendre leur carte de membre afin d’influer sur le choix du futur chef de l’opposition et possiblement du prochain premier ministre du Canada.

Canadians will be watching the New Democratic Party closely in the coming months. There are deep structural challenges that are part of the backdrop to this campaign, and I call upon volunteers and officials both locally and nationally to help this be both a clean and honest campaign and a fair one.

En ce moment, il faut plusieurs mois avant de recevoir sa carte de membre au Québec. Le parti a l’obligation de corriger cette situation.

Il est vrai que le Québec est la seule province où il n’existe pas de NPD provincial pour émettre les cartes de membres. Ceci est une explication mais ne peut être une excuse. Tous les québécois qui souhaitent prendre part à cette course à la chefferie doivent pouvoir le faire sans exception et sans délai.

It is not only with regard with the leadership campaign that we have to grow the party.

We have to become something we’ve never been in order to achieve the ambitious goals we set for ourselves.

We have to have the kind of courage Jack always inspired us to show. We have to innovate to reach out to include Canadians beyond our traditional base.

That’s how we connected with all Quebecers: with a promise to respect and reflect their values.

Those of us who fought in the two Québec referendums also understand that the promises made and broken by the Liberals and Conservatives have left deep scars.

Ceux d’entre nous qui avons sillonné le Québec avons tous compris qu’il est primordial d’honorer l’engagement du NPD de tout faire pour donner un contenu réel à la reconnaissance de la nation québécoise qui demeure, pour le moment, purement symbolique.

Que ce soit sur la scène internationale où nos diplomates sont devenus des vendeurs des politiques environnementales désastreuses des Conservateurs ou au Canada, où l’agenda de la droite accentue le fossé entre les plus riches et les moins nantis, il est plus que temps de travailler ensemble pour chasser les Conservateurs du pouvoir.

By their choices, the Conservatives are leaving the greatest environmental, economic and social debt in our history in the backpacks of future generations. That they have stooped to using an unelected senate to overturn the NDP’s bill on the crucial issue of climate change is merely an indication of what we’re facing now that they have a majority. 

We have a duty to reach out to all progressive forces in our society, so that we can not only oppose the Conservatives, but replace them.

Over the last few weeks as I grieved the loss of my friend and leader, hundreds of NDP activists and hundreds of non-aligned Canadians from across the country have been in touch with me to encourage me to enter our leadership race.

J’ai amplement consulté au cours des dernières semaines et j’étais convaincu de la nécessité d’un appui pan-canadien avant de me lancer dans cette course. Je suis maintenant en mesure de confirmer qu’un tel appui existe.

Let’s have the courage to do things differently – Let’s have enough faith in ourselves to grow where we’ve never been before.

It is in that spirit that I am here to announce to you today that I am a candidate for the leadership of the New Democratic Party.

My experience in two Parliaments, my experience as a public administrator both in Québec and elsewhere and most of all my devotion to the role of rassembleur – to the big project of bringing people together which was the key part of what Jack and I achieved in Québec over the last few years, these are the qualities I have to offer.

These are the promises I make today. I will build the party, I will unite the Party, I will continue to work tirelessly to present to Canadians a real alternative in the next election.

Réussissons dans le reste du Canada ce que nous avons accompli au Québec et le prochain gouvernement du Canada sera formé par le NPD.

Je me présente à la chefferie de notre Parti pour qu’ensemble nous puissions continuer à suivre le chemin tracé par Jack.

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