‘Now more than ever, Canadians are counting on us’

The prepared text of Thomas Mulcair’s remarks in St. John’s this morning at the NDP’s caucus retreat.

Thank you very much, Megan.

What an extraordinary team we’ve got.

From the BC coast and the Arctic Circle

From the centre of Alberta to the heartland of Ontario

From all across Quebec to right here in the Atlantic.

From coast-to-coast-to-coast, New Democrats are fighting for a stronger, fairer Canada.

And to do it, we’ve got the best team in Canadian politics.

The energy and determination in our caucus yesterday and today has been palpable.

Because, friends, something is changing right across Canada.

We heard it at barbeques, and in community halls. We’ve heard it wherever we’ve gone, all summer long.

Canadians are feeling a new confidence about their democracy.

Sure, they look to Ottawa and see a government battered by scandals and mismanagement.

A Prime Minister who tells us that we have to settle for less—that our children will have to settle for less.

But for the first time, Canadians also see an Official Opposition ready to achieve more.

One that is putting forward a positive, optimistic vision for our country.

Yes, something’s changed in Ottawa and Canadians can sense it: for the first time there is a strong, determined official opposition standing up for them.

An opposition that believes in building a future where no one is left behind.

That’s the vision four-and-a-half million Canadians voted for last year.

And it’s a vision that’s gaining strength right across this country.

My friends, the Orange Wave is here to stay.

Just ask people in my home province of Quebec.

They’ll tell you that the NDP is the only strong, federalist option in Quebec.

Just ask Adrian Dix. Or Greg Selinger.Or Andrea Horwath. Or Darrell Dexter.

Just ask Lorraine Michael.

She’ll tell you that—for the first time ever—New Democrats are the party of choice right here in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Canadians across this great country trust the NDP to do politics differently.

So we have to work even harder.

To reach out to even more Canadians.

We’re not waiting until 2015 to prove that New Democrats are ready to lead this country.

That work starts today.

That’s why, this fall, more than ever, you can expect New Democrats to hold Mr. Harper to account.

Here we have a Prime Minister who tells us that the services and benefits Canadians have relied upon for generations have suddenly become unaffordable.

Services that are a part of who we are—like free, universal public health care, Old Age Security and Employment Insurance that takes into account regional differences.

He says that to protect these cherished public services, we have to slash them or abandon them.

And at the same time, Mr. Harper is dishing out massive tax cuts and subsidies to some of Canada’s worst polluters.

Tax cuts that leave this country with no room to manoeuvre in tough economic times.

Subsidies that encourage polluters to use our air, our water and our soil as an unlimited free dumping ground.

Imagine, Mr. Harper is telling seniors they have to work an extra two years before they can retire.

He’s telling parents they’ll have fewer frontline health services for their child if they get sick.

But for well-connected insiders with the ear of this government the tap is flowing as freely as ever.

You know, there was a time in this country when Canadians from Victoria to St. John’s could rely on a decent job and a fair wage to support their family.

When they knew their pension would be there to help them retire with dignity.

For years, many of us have felt like that Canada is slipping away.

Now, under this Conservative government, it is becoming unrecognizable.

Families are working even harder just to make ends meet.

Parents are watching their children graduate with massive student debt—unable to find a decent job.

Income is on the rise for the top 20 per cent—but shrinking for everyone else.

Despite 50 years of economic growth, most Canadians are now falling behind.

Let me be clear: if we continue down this path, we will be the first generation to leave less to our children than what we inherited from our parents.

And friends we must not let that happen.

The Conservatives like to portray themselves as good managers.

But the reality is that they don’t know anything about good public administration.

Just look at how they’ve botched the F-35 file from day one.

Not only did they rig the procurement process from the start, they intentionally hid $10 billion in costs from the Canadian public.

They had a set of books for Stephen Harper’s cabinet and another one for the Canadian public.

As the costs of the F-35 project spiralled out of control, we learned that the aircraft won’t even meet the needs of the Canadian military.

It is not surprising because they ignored the basic rule of defining the needs and giving the contract to the lowest qualified bidder.

And what have the Conservatives done, now that the truth has come out about the F-35?

They’ve shut down the public probe investigating their own incompetence.

Of course, it’s no surprise that the Conservatives have no interest in transparency and accountability.

This is a government that made a mockery of our democratic institutions, ramming their Trojan Horse budget through Parliament over the objections of their own MPs.

This is a Prime Minister who refused to accept even an ounce of accountability after a spring full of scandals.

Instead, he’s dug in his heels.

Well, I have a message for the Prime Minister today:

Mr. Harper, Canadians are tired of the scandal and mismanagement of your government.

And New Democrats are ready to show them that we can do better.

You know, I’ve often said that our generation will be judged by what we leave to future generations.

On the Conservative’s watch, we’re earning a failing grade.

We’re leaving the largest social, economic and ecological debt in the backpacks of future generations.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

It’s time to expect more of our politicians.

New Democrats are fighting for a Canada that achieves the long-term growth we need while protecting our environment.

We can do both. We have to do both.

We’re fighting for a balanced, 21st century economy that’s prosperous and progressive.

And we’re fighting for a government that puts the interests of its citizens above the interests of well-connected insiders.

In other words, we stand for a vision that will create wealth and prosperity across Canada not only today, but for generations to come.

One of the perks of being Opposition Leader is that I get to travel right across the country.

And I have to tell you how inspired I am by the young Canadians I’ve met this last year.

Young people are more educated and engaged than ever.

But too often they feel as if their political leaders don’t reflect their values.

Well, they are often right.

That’s why I am so proud of our young MPs in Parliament.

They are inspiring role models; they are standing up for their communities and standing up to Stephen Harper.

For the first time, young Canadians have a seat at the table.

For the first time, they see there is a place for them in Canadian politics.

Now New Democrats are committed to reaching out even further.

Because—mark my words—young people will change this country for the better.

So this fall, we’ll visit campuses across the country.

We’ll build on what we started in the last election.

We’re going to listen to young people about the kind of Canada they want and work with them to bring those ideas to Ottawa.

We’re going to prove to them that they can vote for the change they want, and actually get it.

Friends, for 51 years, New Democrats have led the fight to build a better Canada—where no one is left behind.

Now is the time to take the next step, to gear up for our biggest fight of all.

To show Canadians that we are ready to govern.

To take on the Conservatives and unite progressives of every stripe under the NDP banner.

Now more than ever, Canadians are counting on us.

Now more than ever, we are up to the task.

We already know what we can accomplish when we work together.

The road to 2015 starts today.

Now let’s get the job done.

Thank you.

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