Full Text Canadian Political Transcripts September 17, 2015: Transcript of the Globe & Mail federal election 2015 leadership debate on the economy

CANADIAN POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

POLITICAL HEADLINES:

Transcript of the Globe & Mail federal election debate on the economy

Source: Macleans, 9-17-15

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau (L), NDP leader Thomas Mulcair (C) and Progressive Conservative leader Stephen Harper pose for a photo opportunity prior to the beginning of the Globe and Mail Leaders Debate in Calgary, Alberta September 17, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Sturk - RTS1NBL

TABLE OF CONTENTS

SEGMENT ONE: ECONOMY PT. 1
SEGMENT ONE: TAXATION
SEGMENT TWO: ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT
SEGMENT THREE: INFRASTRUCTURE
SEGMENT FOUR: IMMIGRATION
SEGMENT FIVE: QUESTIONS, AND OPEN DEBATE
David Walmsley: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Globe and Mail debate on the economy. We are coming to you live from Calgary with a studio audience, and they join you, our viewing audience, for the next 90 minutes as we discuss the key issues of this 2015 campaign. Let’s welcome the three party leaders here tonight. From the Conservative Party, Stephen Harper; from the New Democratic Party, Thomas Mulcair; and from the Liberal Party, Justin Trudeau.

(Applause)

There is little doubt this election is about the economy. All parties, I think, can agree at least with that. With the country struggling to find its economic mojo, we have some tough questions for the leaders this evening. The first half deals with six topics: jobs; energy and the environment; infrastructure; immigration; housing; and taxation. Each area will begin with a question from me to one of the three leaders, with a follow-up question to that same leader. I’ll then push the question to a second leader for a quick answer before an open-floor debate. None of the three leaders has advance knowledge of the questions, only the broad themes. And the order of speaking and the positions on the stage were randomly drawn with party representatives. That’s the housekeeping. Let’s begin.

The reason we are here tonight is to come to grips with this country’s challenges. And the first question goes to you, Mr. Harper. And the question is on jobs. Canada is facing structural rather than cyclical change. Do you have a jobs plan for industry beyond taking things out of the ground?

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Absolutely, David. But if you don’t mind, let me just begin by saying, because we’re in southern Alberta, I want to take a moment to give my condolences to the Blanchette and the Dunbar families on the terrible deaths of Hailey and Terry. These were obviously senseless acts, and I know that everybody here, across the country, our thoughts and prayers are with those families.

On jobs, David, our approach is multifaceted. There’s several things we’re doing. Obviously the centrepiece of our plan is to make sure we have – we are making practical investments that are affordable, that we can do while keeping our taxes down and keeping our budget balanced. But there’s a number of things we’re doing, including: for instance, particular interventions in the labour market to make sure we’re training people for the jobs that are available; orienting our immigration policy that way; encouraging innovation in our manufacturing sector; opening up trade markets. We’ve signed more trade agreements than ever before. There’s a whole series of things we’re doing, but the core to protecting our economy is making sure that our budgets remain balanced and our taxes remain down.

David Walmsley: Thank you. Your dream, though, of being an energy super power have not been realized. For those who are worried about jobs of the future, what comes next?

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, I – you know, I think I just laid out exactly where we’re going. We are living in a very challenged global economy. We have enormous economic instability out there. Through it all, the Canadian economy has managed to create a large number of jobs, a better record than anyone in the G7, 1.3 million net new jobs since the end of the global financial crisis, most of them full time in the private sector in good-wage industries. Incomes have been rising.

Now, there are still challenges, and we can do more, but the essence of our plan is making sure that we make investments that we can afford. The other parties are trying to tell us they will deal with the challenges of our economy, of our labour market, of international markets, by raising taxes and running deficits to finance vastly increased amounts of spending. That is not the way to protect our economy in this environment. The way to protect our economy is make specific investments that will help build our labour force, build our infrastructure, build our manufacturing and other resource industries, while at the same time making sure we’re keeping our taxes down and our budget balanced.

David Walmsley: Thank you, Mr. Harper. That’s Mr. Harper’s answer.

To Mr. Mulcair we go. Jobs. You need to do more, surely, than support just the manufacturing sector. What is your jobs plan?

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Well, I listened carefully to your question to the Prime Minister, and I was disappointed that he wasn’t able to go beyond resource extraction. Mr. Harper put all of his eggs into one basket, and then he dropped the basket. Four hundred thousand well-paid manufacturing jobs lost on his watch. There are now 300,000 more Canadians without a job than when the recession hit in 2008. So we have a plan to kick-start the economy, to grow manufacturing jobs, work on innovation. We want to drop the taxes of Canada’s small and medium-sized businesses because they create 80 percent of new jobs in this country.

And we also want to help people get ahead and make their lives easier because making sure that you can balance your work life and your family life is important to the NDP. So that’s why one of our key planks in this platform is to make sure that we bring in quality, affordable child care across Canada, at most $15 a day. Once it’s fully ramped up, that’ll be one million quality, affordable child care spaces across the country. That’ll be good for the economy, but it’ll also be good for women because that’s almost always women who make tough sacrifices in their careers.

David Walmsley: OK. Thank you, Mr. Mulcair. Mr. Trudeau, can you please lead this open part of the debate?

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Now – thank you, David. It’s great to be here in Calgary tonight. I want to start with a few questions, my friends. Are you better off now than you were ten years ago, when Stephen Harper became Prime Minister? Is our country better off? Do you have better job prospects? Do you have confidence that your kids have a brighter future? I’ve spent a long time talking with thousands of Canadians across this country. And Mr. Harper may not see what’s going on from 24 Sussex Drive, but I do. I know that Canadians are worried about their jobs, and that’s what this election is about, their jobs and the jobs that their kids are going to have.

David Walmsley: But Mr. Trudeau —

Hon. Justin Trudeau: That’s why —

David Walmsley: What would your —

Hon. Justin Trudeau: — we have a plan, a strong and clear plan to invest in the middle class, to grow the economy, give it a kick-start it needs, and put more money in Canadians’ pockets. It starts with actually raising taxes on the wealthiest one percent so we can lower them for the middle class. It starts with investing in Canada once again: in roads; in clean water; in transit; in jobs. And when we talk about that investment, we’re very clear. We’re going to run three modest deficits in order to pay for it.

Now, those are the kinds of investments that Mr. Harper hasn’t made for ten years. And if you think this economy’s doing great, then Mr. Harper is your guy.

David Walmsley: Mr. Harper?

Hon. Justin Trudeau: But if you need a change —

David Walmsley: Would you care to respond?

Hon. Justin Trudeau: — the Liberal Party has a plan.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, look. I’ve never said things are great. What I’ve said is we’re leading – living in a very unstable global economic environment. The questions I would ask people at home are the following. In the last ten years, where would you rather have been in all this global economic instability? Where would you rather have been than Canada? Looking forward, where would you rather be than Canada? I think the are – these are the key questions.

Mr. Trudeau proposes permanent deficits. He proposes – he’s opposed, for example, to our cuts to small business. The rea—small business taxes. And the reason Mr. Trudeau said he was opposed to small business cuts is he said a large percentage of small businesses are just wealthy people avoiding taxes. Mr. Trudeau, small business —

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Mr. Harper —

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — is the backbone of the middle class, and it’s the backbone of the Canadian economy.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Mr. Harper —

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: That’s why among our investments —

Hon. Justin Trudeau: — you know full well —

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — we’re cutting taxes for small business (crosstalk) —

Hon. Justin Trudeau: — Mr. Harper, you know full well —

David Walmsley: Let’s go to Mr. Trudeau.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: — that the Liberal – Mr. Harper knows full well that the Liberal Party plan is to drop small business taxes from 11 to nine percent. He’s just playing politics. We have a plan not only to encourage small businesses but to invest in what small businesses need, like reliable transportation, like a growing economy. Mr. Harper has not only the worst growth record on jobs – the worst job creation record since World War II; he has the worst record on economic growth since the Great Depression.

David Walmsley: OK.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: We need to grow this economy —

David Walmsley: Let’s get to Mr. Mulcair.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: — and he has failed.

David Walmsley: You’re hearing a good ding-dong between these two. Where are you?

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Well, I’m going to try to ring their bell. While Mr. Harper thinks that everything is just fine the way it is, Mr. Trudeau is proposing to dump tens of billions of dollars in new debt on the backs of future generations. The Prime Minister wants to hit the snooze button, while Mr. Trudeau is hitting the panic button. Canadians deserve to know what they’re voting on in this election. The NDP has put its numbers out there. We put out a costed plan yesterday. It’s frankly reliable, and it’s sustainable. We’ve put out numbers, and neither of these will do the same. At least we should respect the voting public and let them have an informed decision in this election.

David Walmsley: Mr. Harper —

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Actually, Mr. Mulcair —

David Walmsley: — you grimaced with that.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, look. Both of these parties talk about cutting taxes for small business, doing the small business tax cut that we are already moving forward with for the next four years. But what they also propose – and small businesses know this around the country. They propose hikes to payroll taxes, to CPP particularly and also employment insurance, that are ten times bigger than the tax cuts they are promising small business. That’s why the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has come out against these plans. That’s why Canadian Federation of Independent Business and other experts today said that Mr. Mulcair’s tax increases will cost at least 250,000 jobs. You don’t protect our economy and you don’t move it forward and create jobs by (crosstalk).

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: If Mr. Harper —

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Mr. Harper –

(Crosstalk)

David Walmsley: (Crosstalk) Trudeau, please. Mr. Trudeau.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Mr. Harper has demonstrated once again that he’s missing the point. Canadians need support. The fact that he’s talking about pensions as taxes – why pensions aren’t taxes, Mr. Harper, is when people retire they get their pension money back. They don’t get taxes back. That’s where the difference is.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, Mr. Trudeau, that’s a decision —

Hon. Justin Trudeau: And Mr. Mulcair needs to hit —

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — for people to make themselves.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: — Mr. Mulcair needs to hit the wake-up call. Mr. Mulcair has missed the opportunity to invest in Canadians the way we need to.

(Crosstalk)

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: If you were right —

David Walmsley: Let’s – let’s have Mr. Harper quickly respond in a sentence, then we’ll come to Mr. Mulcair.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Look, we have given all kinds of tax incentives for people to save, and they’re taking advantage of them. Eleven million people —

Hon. Justin Trudeau: No, they’re not, Mr. Harper.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — (crosstalk) tax-free savings accounts. Workers and employers, small employers, do not want these tax hikes. And when you say they’re not tax hikes, they’re coming right out of the paycheques, a thousand dollars for the Liberal Party proposal out of someone making $60,000 —

David Walmsley: OK. That’s —

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — a year. It comes out of the mortgage (crosstalk) —

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Mr. Harper, you’re inventing (crosstalk) —

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — comes out of planning for education —

David Walmsley: — a long answer, Mr. Harper.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: This comes out of putting food on the table.

David Walmsley: Let’s go to Mr. Mulcair for the final word.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: It’s not just money that appears out of thin air.

David Walmsley: Mr. Mulcair.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: That was a really long sentence, David. Look, the average Canadian knows that a pension plan is necessary. The Canada Pension Plan, as far as Mr. Harper is concerned, is a tax. We view it as an investment in the future. I’m tired of watching successive Liberal and Conservative governments dump these massive ecological, economic, and social debts on the backs of future generations.

David Walmsley: Thank you very much. And that brings us, with some relief, to the end of the first question.

(Laughter)

ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT

We move now to the second topic, energy and the environment. And this question goes to Mr. Mulcair. Mr. Mulcair, in the last campaign, the NDP put a cost of $21 billion on its carbon pricing policy. What is your current proposal, and what would the cost be for carbon emissions?

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Well, thank you very much, David. And we know that a dynamic and innovative energy sector is crucial for Canada for the years to come. And we also know that Canada has international obligations that it has to follow through on. The Liberals signed Kyoto with no plan. They admitted they had no plan to respect it. That’s why they went on to have one of the worst records in the world for greenhouse gas production. Shamefully, Stephen Harper made Canada the only country in the world to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol.

Now, when I talk about avoiding leaving a massive debt on the backs of future generations, this is exactly what we’re talking about. So yes, we’ve always believed that the best way to ensure a reduction in greenhouse gases is with what’s called a cap and trade system. Actually, Canada and the United States had a very successful model of that to reduce SO2 when it was causing acid rain on our forests. It’s worked before, and it can work again. But above that, everybody has to understand that there are tens of thousands of jobs across the country, and especially here in Alberta, that rely on that sector, and we need to understand that we have to develop our resources responsibly and sustainable, which is exactly what I did when I was the Minister.

David Walmsley: OK. Mr. Mulcair, I’m going to go back into that. Let’s get the costing. What is the costing for your carbon emission proposal? Is it cap and trade, similar to Ontario and Quebec? Is it a carbon tax like British Columbia? What would the cost be?

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: No, I don’t think that you can guarantee a reduction with a carbon tax. A carbon tax is about the tax, although there is more and more information available. A cap and trade system can guarantee the reduction. These are basic principles of sustainable development. You have to make sure that you make the polluter pay for the creation that they’re creating. You can’t allow people to use the air, the soil and the water —

David Walmsley: But Mr. Mulcair, would that not create revenue hemorrhaging in Alberta, to tie with Ontario and Quebec?

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: No, that’s not what happened when we brought in the cap and trade system to reduce the SO2 that was calling – causing acid rain. And you could of course make sure that you’re reinvesting in green energy technologies. Around the world there will be $5 trillion spent on green energy technologies in the next 15 years. Unfortunately, Canada is not even going to be part of it because we have a government that has taken a rip and ship approach to sending our resources as fast as they can to other places. We’ve got to take a different approach, add jobs here in Canada.

David Walmsley: But is the bill – is the bill going to be —

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Both Mr. Trudeau and Mr. —

David Walmsley: — more than 21 billion or less?

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Well, of course, as you know, that was something that was proposed last time. And the cap and trade system that we’re proposing now has no such bill, and you know that, Mr. Walmsley.

David Walmsley: OK, thank you. Let’s move now to Mr. Trudeau. For your plan, it looks like a lot of it is left to the provinces. How do you lead the country, perhaps going to the UN climate conference later this year, without a Canadian policy?

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Well, we have a Canadian policy, and it’s one that recognizes that for ten years under Mr. Harper, with no leadership on the environment, provinces have moved forward. And 86 percent of our economy, our four biggest provinces, have actually committed to putting a price on carbon, and they’ve done it in different ways, which makes Mr. Mulcair’s proposal so unrealistic. The idea of imposing a bureaucracy out of Ottawa, a cap and trade system, on provinces like British Columbia that have already moved forward with a world-renowned carbon tax that is actually working for them is actually a completely nonsensical plan.

We are committed to working with the provinces to reduce emissions, to encourage them to hit those – the targets needed so that we can contribute as a responsible country once again to reducing emissions. We will go to Paris for the climate change conference with all Premiers to talk about how we are going to meet that responsibility we collectively share on this planet, to prevent a two-degree increase in global temperatures.

David Walmsley: Thank you. I think we’re hearing a lot of skating. Let’s go to the Conservative Leader. Mr. Harper, you start off the open-floor portion.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, look, David, I would just point out this is the first government in Canadian history that has actually been able to see a reduction in our greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time seeing the economy grow, and we’re very proud of that. We didn’t do that through carbon tax schemes, principally because carbon taxes are not about reducing emissions, carbon taxes are about raising revenue for the government. And in one form or another, that’s what the other parties are proposing. We’ve been moving forward with a regulatory approach, sector by sector, where we actually know the cause and effects of putting in new regulations and reducing emissions before we actually do it, so it’s not just left to chance.

But I do, David, want to address the other half of the debate, which is the energy sector. You know, it’s an important – it’s been a very important driver of the Canadian economy. It’s obviously having a significant downturn right now because of the fall of energy prices. And that sector needs a government that is on its side. We want to see this sector grow and develop. The other —

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: The problem is, Mr. Walmsley —

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: You know – you know —

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: — under Stephen Harper’s stewardship we have not built one kilometre of pipeline to tidewater, and it’s easy to understand why. He’s gutted a whole series of environmental laws. We don’t have a credible, thorough, environmental assessment process left in this country. The public is not on side. He thought he was helping the energy companies by destroying that legislation; he’s actually made their lives tougher.

When I was the Minister in Quebec, Mr. Walmsley, I lowered greenhouse gas production in our province every year for the three years I was the Minister of the Environment. It can be done. We brought in overarching sustainable development legislation, the toughest in North America. We went so far as to change the Charter of Rights to include the right to live in a clean environment. It can be done. Mr. Harper sees the environment and the economy as polar opposites. Everybody in Canada knows you have to work on both at the same time.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Which is why we’ve done both. Mr. Mulcair, you actually are the only leader in Canadian history to have gone to another country, you and your colleagues, to the United States, to argue against Canadian jobs and against Canadian development projects.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: It’s exactly the opposite, Mr. Harper.

(Crosstalk)

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: It’s exactly the opposite.

(Crosstalk)

David Walmsley: Hold on, Mr. (crosstalk) –

(Crosstalk)

David Walmsley: Mr. Trudeau and – Mr. Trudeau (crosstalk) —

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: He just said something to me and I’m going to answer him. Forty thousand Canadian jobs would be exported to the United States with Keystone XL. That’s not our figure; that’s the Government of Canada’s figure under Mr. Harper’s Conservatives. I want to create those 40,000 jobs in Canada. Let’s add value to our natural resources here. That’s the way to sustainably develop our resources.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Mr. Mulcair, when you export your product –

(Crosstalk)

David Walmsley: Hold on. Hold on.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: That’s why trade’s a good thing.

David Walmsley: Let’s go to Mr. Trudeau.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Mr. Mulcair talks about having Minister of the Environment in Quebec, but I was living in Quebec at that time and I remember he was proposing bulk water exports to the United States for Quebec, and that’s certainly not something we’re interested in.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: That’s completely false (crosstalk).

Hon. Justin Trudeau: You gave a speech on it. You said it could be like forestry —

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: That’s completely false.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: — in the – well, listen, look at your own record, Mr. Mulcair.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: You look at the record, and —

Hon. Justin Trudeau: The fact is Mr. Harper continues —

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: — (crosstalk) very strong (crosstalk) in place.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: — to pretend that there is a —

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: These are called debates, Mr. Trudeau. You don’t seem to understand that.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: — choice between environment and economy. He chooses to say that you cannot build a strong economy if you’re still protect—if you’re protecting the environment. And that has been his failure, and that has been his failure felt right here in Calgary. He talks about being the best friend that Calgary has ever had, that Alberta has ever had, but he hasn’t gotten pipelines built. He has made the oil sands and international pariah, and with friends like Stephen Harper —

David Walmsley: OK, let’s – can we – let’s —

Hon. Justin Trudeau: — Alberta doesn’t need enemies.

David Walmsley: — get away from politics for a moment. Let’s bring it back to some costing. What is the costing of your plan? Mr. Mulcair first.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Our plan for sustainable development includes bringing in overarching legislation that will be rigorously enforced and provide action when a company is trying to pollute the environment. Mr. Harper talks a good game on international trade deals. He’s done everything in his power to stop the authorities that exist under the North American Free Trade Agreement from even measuring the pollution going into the environment in Canada. That’s his track record.

We’ll enforce overarching sustainable development legislation. We’ll apply it fairly and equally to everyone. And Canadians will know that we’re going to stop leaving this massive ecological debt to – on the backs of future generations.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Now, you asked about our costing. Not only will we move forward on pricing carbon with the provinces and ensuring that we’re reducing greenhouse gases in a responsible way; the Liberal Party is also committed to investing $20 billion over ten years in greener infrastructure. That’s floodplains mitigation here in Calgary and places across the country; it’s investing in clean jobs, in green tech, in making sure that we’re moving towards renewable energies. Yes, we need to get our resources to market. It’s one of the fundamental responsibilities of a Prime Minister. But in order to do that, we need to move in a responsible way that understands the future that we’re leaving to our kids.

David Walmsley: Mr. Harper.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Look, we’re investing heavily in green energy, about a billion dollars a year in green energy and energy efficiency technology. But what we’re not doing is imposing costs upon consumers. We’re in a fragile global economy. We don’t need additional costs. You know, we heard the same, old story from the NDP on this. They say we’re going to fix this somehow through raising taxes. In their platform yesterday, they put in a bunch of tax increases —

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: That’s false.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — for the energy and mining sector.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Completely false.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: You know, this is the same story we had in Alberta when the NDP came to office. We’d somehow fix our problems through raising taxes. And now what have we seen? Now I know trades people who are now getting higher individual tax bills. We see people getting layoffs because their employers are paying higher taxes.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Mr. Harper’s solution to everything has been to —

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Higher taxes are not the way you’re —

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: — drop the taxes to the tune of tens of billions of dollars.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — going to move the energy sector or the Canadian economy forward —

David Walmsley: OK.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — in a challenged global economy.

David Walmsley: Mr. Mulcair —

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: (Crosstalk) low taxes and balanced budgets.

David Walmsley: — please. Mr. Mulcair, your final word.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Mr. Harper has dropped the taxes of Canada’s largest corporations by tens of billions of dollars. If that was such a good idea to create jobs, how come we lost 400,000 well-paid manufacturing jobs? How come we have 300,000 more unemployed today than when Mr. Harper’s first recession hit in 2008?

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Jobs are up, and corporate tax revenues are up.

INFRASTRUCTURE

David Walmsley: OK, thank you. We now move to the third topic, which is infrastructure. And this goes to Mr. Trudeau. Mr. Trudeau, you’re committed to taking us into deficit in order to fund your infrastructure plan. Spending money is an easy promise. What does success look like?

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Well, Canadians understand that, when you want to buy a new home or renovate your existing home because you’re adding to the family, you take out a bank loan. You know that you can invest in your future because that’s what confident, optimistic countries do. We invest in our future. And right now Mr. Harper thinks that the investments he’s made over the past ten years are enough; they’re not. Because he has the worst job creation rate since World War II, he has the worst growth rate of any Prime Minister since the Great Depression.

We need to create the transit that Canadians need, and we need to start doing it right now. Mr. Mulcair talks about putting things off for three, five, ten, 20 years. That’s not what we need. We’re the only party that’s said yes, we will run three modest deficits because it’s time to invest in Canada once again and give people the support they need. That’s why we’re going to work with municipalities and provinces to identify the necessary projects and get them built because we will invest in the future of our country.

David Walmsley: Mr. Trudeau, you say that you would create a new infrastructure bank. That is dependent upon Canada’s pension funds investing. So far, they haven’t chosen to do that because the projects in Canada are too small. What if they don’t sign up?

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Actually, that’s not entirely – that’s not at all true, David. We are actually proposing a new infrastructure bank that will help provinces and municipalities borrow at the advantageous rate that the federal government actually has. Yes, we are, as a separate initiative, looking to encourage pension funds to invest here in Canada, but in order to do that, we have to have a much more robust partner in the federal government.

For a decade now, Mr. Harper has under-invested in our infrastructure, and, while he’s been running fiscal deficits, has also been increasing our infrastructure deficit. The fact is Canadians stuck in traffic on the Deerfoot or on the Gardiner or on – or elsewhere across the country know that we need a plan that’s going to tackle transit and roads right now, not a decade from now like Mr. Mulcair, and not – not at all like Mr. Harper has been doing. That’s what our plan is all about. That’s why I’m going to invest in the future of our country.

David Walmsley: Mr. Harper, is Mr. Trudeau on to something?

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Absolutely not.

(Laughter)

You know, look, here are the facts. This year our government is putting more into infrastructure – 15 times more – than the last full year of the Liberal government. That is how much we’ve increased federal infrastructure investments. Over the decade to come, our Economic Action Plan to create jobs and growth has some $80 billion, an unprecedented amount of money that’s being put into federal, provincial, and municipal infrastructure across the country. Of course the easiest thing to do for anybody else is come along and say, you know, let’s just spend more. But we’ve managed to do this without raising your taxes and without borrowing anything as we move forward.

Mr. Trudeau comes along and says let’s spend more, let’s raise taxes, let’s run a deficit. Running a deficit is not the kind of protection our economy needs right now. We’re in an unstable global economy. We’ve managed to return to a balanced budget now for the second year when many other countries haven’t done so. That’s an asset we should continue to pursue, and we don’t need to spend more just for the sake of being able to say we spent more.

David Walmsley: Let’s move to the open-floor part of this question. Mr. Mulcair, you have the lead.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Thank you, Mr. Walmsley. Mr. Trudeau’s plan is frankly reckless, and it’s uncosted. Municipalities across this country are asked to spend the cost to ha—assume the costs of 60 percent of the infrastructure with only eight percent of the tax base. Mathematically that’s impossible, and it’s not sustainable. But what’s also not sustainable is the old Liberal approach of leaving tens of billions of dollars in debt on the backs of future generation.

We are going to be a reliable, long-term partner for municipalities across the country. We don’t need the short-term thinking of the Liberals.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Actually, let’s —

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: We need money invested long term. Our plan is for constant spending over 20 years, 1.5 billion a year in infrastructure, 1.3 billion a year in transit. Those are important sums of money – reliable, long-term.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Mr. Mulcair – Mr. Mulcair likes to talk about long-term, but what he doesn’t realize is long-term actually starts right now, not five years from now, now 20 years from now, not after a few mandates of Mr. Mulcair in government. Canadians —

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Well, thanks for acknowledging (crosstalk).

Hon. Justin Trudeau: — need help right now. And the fact of the matter is that we have a situation right now where interest rates are low, so borrowing has never been cheaper for the federal government; our debt-to-GDP ratio is low and getting lower; our economy has been flat for ten years. So my question is, now that there are thousands upon thousands of skilled Canadians looking for work in construction and in growth, if this isn’t the time to invest, what would be? Because the fact of the matter is I talked with Mr. – Mayor Nenshi just yesterday, and he was saying that costs for municipal investments are actually down 20 percent this year because – compared to last year because of the circumstance we’re in. This is the time to invest in the future of our country. Canadians know this. The only people who don’t seem to know this are those two gentlemen on the stage.

David Walmsley: Mr. Harper?

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Look, not only are we pursuing a long-term, large-scale infrastructure plan under our Economic Action Plan this year; we’re proceeding with a $6 billion plan to eliminate the federal infrastructure deficit entirely going forward. That’s what we’re doing right now. And we’re doing that without borrowing money, without raising taxes. Mr. Trudeau says he will raise taxes. Mr. Mulcair’s plan is the same, old NDP playbook. We saw it in British Columbia, we saw it in Ontario, we’re seeing it in Alberta. A whole bunch more spending, and we can finance that just by raising taxes on a few big corporations and a few rich people. What happens? You start putting people out of work, slowing the economy, killing jobs. That’s the rea—that’s the reality of the NDP plan wherever it has been tried. And when we are in a fragile (crosstalk) —

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Actually, Mr. Harper, you’re wrong about that. You’re wrong about that, Mr. Harper —

(Crosstalk)

David Walmsley: Let’s go to (crosstalk).

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Mr. Mulcair is not going to —

David Walmsley: Mr. Trudeau —

Hon. Justin Trudeau: — raise taxes on the wealthiest Canadians. He’s chosen to not raise taxes on the wealthiest Canadians.

David Walmsley: Let’s go to Mr. Mulcair, please. Mr. Mulcair.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Only the Liberal Party will, to give a tax cut to the middle class.

David Walmsley: Please, Mr. Trudeau, let’s go to Mr. Mulcair.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Thank you, Mr. Walmsley. The NDP is categorical. We will not be raising taxes on individual Canadians. We are going to be asking Canadian large corporations to start paying their fair share. They’re the only Canadians who don’t right now. Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Harper are of one mind. They thought that dropping their taxes by tens of billions of dollars, way below that of our close trading partners, was a good idea; it hasn’t been. But when we do raise it, it’ll be reasonably, and it’ll still be way below what it was under the Liberals, and it’ll even be below the average of what it’s been under the Conservatives.

We’re also going to make sure that we close some tax loopholes, like the stock option tax loophole brought in by the Liberals, which actually will ensure that people are effectively paying more, not a theoretical amount where they have all these loopholes that they can fall back on. With regard to the difference between the Liberals and us, it’s true the Liberals want to raise individuals’ personal income taxes. The NDP won’t do that. I don’t think it’s fair that someone looking at their pay stub is going to see that 58.75 percent is already gone in income tax. That will be the result of Mr. Trudeau’s plan.

David Walmsley: OK.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: It’s not our plan.

David Walmsley: Mr. Trudeau.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Mr. Mulcair talks about corporations being the only people in this country who are not paying their fair share. So he thinks the wealthiest one percent are paying their fair share. But if you look at the past 30 years, incomes for the wealthiest 70 – wealthiest one percent of Canadians have increased by 70 percent while their federal tax share has decreased by 32 percent. Now, I don’t think that’s fair. We’re the only party that is asking that wealthiest one percent who has done well over the past years —

David Walmsley: Mr. —

Hon. Justin Trudeau: — to pay a little more —

David Walmsley: Mr. Trudeau —

Hon. Justin Trudeau: — so we can cut those taxes to the middle class.

David Walmsley: — this question is on infrastructure. Is the creation of another bank the answer?

Hon. Justin Trudeau: It’s an infrastructure bank that loans to municipalities and provinces so they can take advantage of the preferential rates that the federal government gets. It’s a way of – yet another way, on top of the $60 billion of investments we’re making in our municipalities that starts with doubling in the very first year for transit, for child care spaces, and for seniors’ residences. It is time to invest in the future of our country. It has never been more appropriate to invest in the future of our country.

David Walmsley: Mr. Harper.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: These two gentlemen can’t see that because they’re stuck in a political way, not an economic way.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Mr. Mulcair just claimed he’s going to raise hundreds of millions of dollars through closing treatment of stock options. There is simply not that kind of money in that, and this is the approach of the NDP, to exaggerate how much money they can raise through a few tax hikes. The reality is, when he says he’s not going to raise money on people, the payroll tax hikes of the NDP for CPP and EI amount to over $1500 a person who’s making just $60,000 a year. Those funds come right out of your paycheque. They come right out of the money you’re using to pay your mortgage, buy your clothes —

David Walmsley: OK.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — fund your kids’ education. Those are real costs.

David Walmsley: Mr. Mulcair.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: They just don’t go away because —

David Walmsley: You might want to finish off the last (crosstalk) —

Hon. Justin Trudeau: — (crosstalk) something down the road.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: The stock option – the stock option tax loophole costs Canadian taxpayers $500 million a year, and it goes mostly to the wealthiest Canadians. We will —

David Walmsley: OK.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: — get rid of it.

IMMIGRATION

David Walmsley: We have to leave it there, and we now move to question four. This is on immigration and it goes to Mr. Harper. All parties agree that immigration is central to Canada’s long term economic strategy. What is the right balance between economic migrants and those seeking family reunification?

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, look, every year we put out numbers and I think we’ve maintained a balance between those various categories. We have I think about two thirds of the people who come in are related to economic streams. Others are related to family reunification, refugees, other sorts of streams. What I’m most proud of, David, is this is the first government in Canadian history that, faced with a recession, did not cut our immigration.

The reason we didn’t cut our immigration is because we understand, given the demographic and economic pressures in front of us, that a long-term, large scale immigration program is in this country’s interest. That’s why we’re looking at the long term and I’m very pleased we’ve done that and moved forward on that.

We’re doing specific things to make sure particularly the economic sections of our immigration policy are more oriented to actually getting results. For example, we used to process applications in order. We now have what’s called Express Entry, where we’re targeting those applications that fill actual vacancies in the job market. This is a transformation I think will be very important to making the policy even more effective.

David Walmsley: Should we increase immigration numbers to counter the aging demographic of Canada?

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: We’ve maintained our numbers at very high levels. They’re over 250,000 a year. I think there is room going forward to increased that but obviously we want to make sure we get the right mix because there are significant settlement funding costs that come along with some streams of immigration.

I think that’s a possibility going forward but I think the main thing is that we make sure that we’re maximizing the economic benefits of immigration. I talked about Express Entry.

I’ll give you another example of something we’re doing and that’s the foreign credentials loans program that we brought in as a pilot and we’re now expanding, where we’ve found that if we give through third party groups immigrants very small loans to upgrade their qualifications so they’re recognized in Canada, we can get them into the workforce much more quickly, and we have a payback rate on those loans of well over 90 percent. I think there’s lots of things we can do even within our existing very large levels to improve the system, but I do think we could look at expanding it going forward.

David Walmsley: Thank you very much. Mr. Trudeau, what role does immigration play in your economic plan?

Hon. Justin Trudeau: I think Canada has long known that immigration is essential to our growth. We have a country that has benefited from people coming here from faraway lands, building a better future for themselves and their children and their communities here than they could have anywhere else.

That’s been the strength of this country, the fact that we are a country strong not in spite of our differences but because of them. One of the things that Mr. Harper has continued to under-invest in and not create enough of is family reunification. You talked about it early on, David. This is something that is really important, to create strong communities because, yes, the economic benefits of immigrants are well known but there is more to them than just workers. They are community builders. They are creating stronger cities and a stronger future for future generations. That’s where the cuts he has made to integration programs, to helping Canadians actually succeed, are so disappointing because Canada has always given people a path to succeed here in this country. That’s what we need to get back to once again.

David Walmsley: Mr. Mulcair?

Hon. Tom Mulcair: Canada is a country of immigrants. Unless you’re First Nations, Inuit or Metis your family immigrated to Canada, and it’s what built this great country, David. I couldn’t be prouder than to tell you that my wife Catherine immigrated to Canada. She’s one of the many people who has just contributed so much and I think we can be so proud of that tradition.

Under Mr. Harper’s Conservatives, we have been closing the door more and more on certain aspects of immigration. Mr. Trudeau just referenced it and he’s right. Family reunification is essential. It’s always been part of our immigration system. It’s been completely shut down under Mr. Harper’s Conservatives. I personally believe that the best social program is a united family, and you’ve got that strong family base there allowing people to come in. It shouldn’t be considered, as the Conservatives always call it, a burden for society. I think it’s something that contributes a great deal.

On temporary foreign workers, we know that they left that program a shambles. It was created to help in areas like agriculture but it went off in all different directions. Even Mr. Harper in a secret meeting with some media in Vancouver admitted that it was a total shambles.

There’s one final point. Mr. Harper referenced recognition of foreign diplomas and credentials. Unfortunately, it’s still the number one cause of unemployment amongst immigrants, failure to recognize diplomas and credentials. I used to be chair of the Quebec Professions Board. I’ve got a lot of experience on this. I know we could be doing a lot more to help that.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: I’m not sure how you have a secret meeting with the media.

(Laughter)

David Walmsley: We wish.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: You’d manage it, Mr. Harper. I know you’d manage it.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Let me just correct the facts. Under the first ten years of this government, we’ve seen family class and family reunifications rise by 25 percent. When it was under the previous Liberal government, it went down nearly 50 percent in their first few years in office as they cut back immigration levels. We haven’t done that.

I think people understand that – new Canadians particularly – the Liberal Party talked a good game but didn’t deliver. We have 2.5 million newcomers in this country who have overwhelmingly contributed positively to this country. They’re entrepreneurs. They’re family people. They’re growing our economy, working hard, and this is one of the most positive things about this country. That we are able, through controlled and legal immigration, to have the best record of immigration and success in immigration anywhere in the world is something I think we all should be very proud of.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Mr. Harper demonstrated over the past weeks that in the case of refugees Canada is not doing enough. This is something Mr. Harper has unfortunately done a number of times. He likes to talk about standing up against tyrants and dictators and against terrorists, but you know who stands up to dictators and terrorists? Families fighting to keep their family together, hoping for a better life for them. They cross the oceans and they make it to Canada, and what does Mr. Harper do? He takes away their health care. The fact is we need to once again be a country that is open and welcoming. Yes, we need to be concerned about security but we don’t take that as the excuse to close our doors. In years past, whether it was Joe Clark, the Conservative Prime Minister who brought in tens of thousands of Vietnamese boat people, whether it was other governments who welcomed in people who built, who contributed to this country.

We need to once again be the open generous country, not naïve, making sure we’re doing security right but not using it as an excuse to do less than we should, than the vast majority of Canadians including mayors and Premiers feel we should.

David Walmsley: Mr. Harper, this time bring it back to the economy.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Let me just correct the record on a couple of things.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Refugees are about the economy, David.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: (Inaudible) what you said about refugees. First of all, the fact of the matter we have not taken away health care from immigrants and refugees. On the contrary, the only time we’ve removed it if we had clearly bogus refugees who have been refused and turned down. We do not offer them a better health care plan than the ordinary Canadian can receive. That is not something that new and existing and old stock Canadians agree with. On the issue of refugees this remains one of the largest countries in the world in terms of refugee resettlement including –

Hon. Justin Trudeau: That is not true, Mr. Harper.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: I have said we will bring in more, but what I have said we will not do, these guys would have had in the last two weeks us throwing open our borders and literally hundreds of thousands of people coming without any kind of security check or documentation as some other countries have done.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: That’s not true Mr. Harper.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: That would have been an enormous mistake. We’re following a balanced approach. We’re bringing in more refugees.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Mr. Harper plays to fears all the time. Fears of others, fears of different (inaudible). We have a Prime Minister who prefers to pander to fears.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: (Crosstalk)

David Walmsley: Let’s go to Mr. Mulcair on immigration and the economy.

Hon. Tom Mulcair: Canadians want a Prime Minister who understands the sense of urgency that we all feel when we see the current crisis in Syria. Mr. Harper unfortunately – and it’s undignified – is fear mongering. It’s completely false to affirm that any of the parties in Canada would want to throw open the doors to people without any regard to security.

But Rick Hillier, who is no less an authority than the former Chief of the Defence Staff, last week said we’ve got to stop using the security concerns as an excuse to do nothing. So Mr. Harper, why don’t you stop using the security excuse as a pretext to do nothing because nobody wants to let somebody in without a security check but you’re doing nothing.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: We’re announcing that we’re bringing in more refugees. We’re announcing we’re bringing them in more quickly. We’re providing a matching fund for humanitarian support because even under the most generous refugee policy the vast majority of these millions of people will remain in those countries and will need our assistance. Those are the things we’re doing (crosstalk).

Hon. Tom Mulcair: The UN has asked us to bring in 9,000 refugees before Christmas. You won’t do it. They’ve asked for 46,000 over the next four years. You won’t do it. That’s the United Nations asking that, Mr. Harper.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: (Crosstalk) Most Canadians don’t want that approach. It is not the kind of reckless approach that these two parties —

(Cross talk)

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Canada has done more in the past. We need to do more right now. We will do more on October 20th.

David Walmsley: On to the next topic, and the next topic is housing. Mr. Trudeau, Canadians have been on a borrowing binge to buy ever more expensive homes. What would you do to guard against a housing bubble?

Hon. Justin Trudeau: The fact is for many Canadians their entire economic security is in their home. It’s their savings. It’s their retirement. We need to make sure that while housing prices rise, incomes are rising as well. The middle class Canadians believe that their jobs are giving them better and better salaries, that they can get raises.

In order to do that, we need to create economic growth. We need to reassure Canadians that the economy is going to grow at the same pace as their house values. That’s not what Mr. Harper has delivered. He has the worst record on growth since R.B. Bennett in the depths of the Great Depression.

There are many other Canadians who are facing challenges around housing because they can’t find rental housing. That’s why the Liberal Party has a plan to increase investment in home construction of rental units, to help seniors with the cost of their rents by increasing GIS and by making sure that we actually give people the support needed to be able to get their homes and have that economic security.

David Walmsley: Would you restrict foreign ownership of residential homes in Canada?

Hon. Justin Trudeau: I think one of the things that we’re seeing in a number of places around the country is concerns on that, but the fact is we don’t actually have enough accurate data to understand entirely what’s happening. One of the reasons for that is Mr. Harper has chosen to cut the long form census and it leaves us with less understanding of needs. The Liberal Party is committed to restoring the long form census to ensure that we have the kind of data so that we can respond to local challenges like you speak of.

What we need to be as a federal government is a much better partner to provinces and municipalities to be able to address challenges that are being faced in our major centres like Vancouver or Toronto, but also the challenges that are being felt right across the country for people who are struggling to buy their first home, people who are struggling to find rental housing and who need help to get that economic ladder to success that has always been there for Canadians but hasn’t been over the past ten years. That’s what the Liberal plan to invest in the future of our country is all about.

David Walmsley: Mr. Mulcair, what would you do to help the squeezed middle class who have high mortgages and high property taxes?

Hon. Tom Mulcair: Thank you, David. The first thing I think that Canadians should recall is that the last time the Liberals were in power they cancelled Canada’s national housing strategy. It’s also worth knowing that there were 35,000 homeless in Canada right now.

What we would do, I gave an example earlier of our quality affordable child care at maximum $15 a day. You know here in Calgary, in Toronto and lots of other cities parents are paying well over $20,000 a year for child care for an infant. It’s simply unaffordable, and young people today have the largest student debt that there ever was.

As I went across the country I met lots of young people who were thinking of having a family but they look at the cost of the conciliation, balancing their life and their family and their work. It’s extremely difficult. We would make sure we would put more money in their pockets with quality, affordable child care. We would bring in as a model for others and with regard to the 100,000 people that it would give a raise to a federal minimum wage of $15 an hour.

David Walmsley: Open floor, Mr. Harper.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: First of all, let me just say, while no doubt there are some people who are over extended, I think the housing story is a very positive story in this country. You know, you look around the world where there have been all of these financial and other crashes. A lot of them centred around the housing market. In Canada we have seen home ownership rise to record levels. We now have higher home ownership than the United States because people have been able to take advantage of lower interest rates when their job prospects have been solid and good and their incomes have been growing. That’s a positive Canadian story that we should celebrate.

How do we in this unstable global economy continue to protect that going forward? We believe in bringing in specific incentives to help home owners, for instance the home renovation tax credit we’re bringing forward, improvements to the home buyer’s plan, the doubling of contributions to tax free savings accounts, things that allow people to save and invest more in their homes.

What we do not need when our economy is threatened by developments in the global economy is tax increases on ordinary Canadian families who pay low taxes, or permanent deficits. These are risks we cannot afford and they’re not good for homeowners.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Mr. Harper talks about growth but he hasn’t been able to get it done for ten years. He has the worst growth record in 80 years of any Prime Minister. We know how to grow the economy. We invest in the economy once again. Interest rates are low, our debt-to-GDP is low, and economic growth has been flat. We need to kick-start our economy, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do so people can get better jobs and actually afford their homes. That’s where we help.

Mr. Mulcair, who’s talking about child care, the fact is that a young family with a two year old doesn’t need childcare eight years from now when their kid is in grade five. They need it right away. But Mr. Mulcair is not making a choice that’s going to allow to invest in his promises. They’re puffs of smoke. We need to invest right now —

Hon. Tom Mulcair: You know about that, don’t you, Justin?

(Laughter)

Hon. Justin Trudeau: We know right now to invest in the future of this country. Mr. Mulcair, you can make jokes all you like. This is Canadians having trouble making ends meet and you’re offering a national minimum wage. It will not touch 99 percent.

David Walmsley: Mr. Trudeau, thank you.

Hon. Tom Mulcair: What we’re offering, Mr. Trudeau, you had 13 years the last time you were in power to get to child care. It was in four successive Liberal Red Books, and you know how many spaces they created? Zero.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: That’s not true.

Hon. Tom Mulcair: The least we can say it that it wasn’t a priority for them. Quality, affordable child care is a top priority for the NDP.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Eight years from now, if the provinces kick in billions of dollars.

(Crosstalk)

David Walmsley: Mr. Mulcair, can I ask you, what message do you give to millennials today who are trying to get onto the property rung? What do you say to those?

Hon. Tom Mulcair: I say that we’ve got a Prime Minister who just said that he thinks it’s a good idea that a bungalow in a lot of our suburbs in places like Vancouver and Toronto is totally out of reach for them. Look at the cost of housing in some of our major cities. It is out of control.

At the same time, Mr. Harper says it’s OK, I’ve got a renovation tax credit. How do you renovate a house you can’t afford to buy in the first place? We’re going to start by putting more money in people’s pockets. Affordable, quality child care is one of them. We’ll give a raise to over 100,000 people earning the federal minimum wage or less. They’ll get more money. A $15 an hour federal minimum wage is not only good for them. It’s a good signal for the provinces to do the same thing, to bring up a living wage. You know why? Because I think that somebody who works full time shouldn’t be living in poverty.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Mr. Mulcair, I have spoken to an awful lot of Canadians earning the minimum wage. They work in coffee shops, they work in grocery checkout lines and you’re giving them false hope by talking about a national minimum wage. You are promising them a national minimum wage.

Hon. Tom Mulcair: We have people working in banks, in airports, in interprovincial transport. They’re earning less than $15 an hour. and over 100,000 of them are going to get a raise.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: (Crosstalk) 99 percent of Canadians earning the minimum wage aren’t going to be affected.

(Crosstalk)

Hon. Tom Mulcair: Mr. Trudeau voted for this on September 22nd. Now he’s campaigning against it. I think –

Hon. Justin Trudeau: I campaigned against the false promises, the false promises you are making. You pretend this national minimum wage is a significant thing. Well it’s not going to help 99 percent of people.

(Crosstalk)

David Walmsley: Let’s go to Mr. Harper.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Just to repeat, we’re not just bringing in a home renovation tax credit. We’re also enhancing the home buyer’s plan to help families reach their – and be able to build their first home, just as we enhanced the first time home buyer’s plan.

We’ve done a lot of things to encourage home ownership. In terms of rising costs due to speculative – a possibility of foreign speculation, we said we’re prepared to act on that if the data show that that is really a problem. Look, we’re doing more of these things to help Canadian families.

Mr. Mulcair talks about child care. We’ve delivered directly to Canadian families the universal child care benefit. Now we are enhancing it. We’re increasing deductions to income tax for your child care expenses.

Hon. Tom Mulcair: That’s not what you promised.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: We’re doubling the tax free savings account.

Hon. Tom Mulcair: Mr. Harper, you promised 125,000 child care spaces and you delivered the same amount as the Liberals, precisely zero.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Without raising taxes –

(Crosstalk)

David Walmsley: Mr. Trudeau.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — and without running a deficit.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Mr. Harper and Mr. Mulcair agree on one thing. They want to continue to send Mr. Harper’s UCCB cheques to millionaires just because they have children. We don’t think that’s fair. We’re going to stop sending those cheques to the people who don’t need it so we can send larger cheques to the families who do need it and lift 315,000 kids out of poverty. That will make a significant difference in the lives of people who need it, and neither Mr. Harper nor Mr. Mulcair do that.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: You don’t have enough money in the budget for your promises.

David Walmsley: We have to move on, wrestling alligators. We move to the final topic of the first half of this debate, taxation. Mr. Mulcair, let me address this to you first. You say you will raise corporate tax rates from the current 15 percent to 17 percent. What economic rather than political reason justifies your decision?

Hon. Tom Mulcair: Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Harper had a single minded approach. The Liberals and the Conservatives have agreed that tens of billions of dollars of tax reductions for Canada’s largest and most profitable corporations was the way to go, but as we’ve seen, David, that hasn’t worked out so well.

We’ve lost 400,000 well-paid manufacturing jobs on Mr. Harper’s watch. There are 300,000 more people unemployed today than when his first recession hit so yes, the NDP is quite clear that Canada’s large corporations are going to go back to paying something resembling their fair share. It will still be less than the average that it was under Mr. Harper’s Conservatives and well below what it was under the Liberals. We’re asking all Canadians to pay their fair share, and that would include the largest corporations, but at the same time we’re going to start right away. We’re not going to wait like Mr. Harper would. We’re going to start right away to reduce the taxes on Canada’s job creators, our small and medium sized businesses create 80 percent of the new jobs in this country, and that we think is a good idea.

We’re also going to close stock loopholes because those are the types of loopholes that exist for the rich. We’ll make sure that they effectively pay more. That’s the right approach.

David Walmsley: If corporations move their money elsewhere, you lose both your balanced budget and your revenue.

Hon. Tom Mulcair: That’s why you’ve also got to work at the same time against tax havens. Mr. Harper has done nothing about that. We’ve had cases where other authorities in other countries have given full lists of Canadians who have been using illegal tax havens, and Mr. Harper has done nothing about that.

At the same time, the NDP will take an approach to make sure that the wealthiest start paying their fair share. When we made that announcement at the Broadbent Institute, we looked at the successive years of promises by the Liberals talking about millennial goals to help raise children out of poverty. I don’t accept as inevitable that, in a country as wealthy as Canada, hundreds of thousands of children go to school every morning without having eaten. We’re going to take that money, the $500 million that the stock option tax loophole gives to Canada’s wealthiest. We’re going to dedicate it dollar for dollar to help those children and their families out of poverty.

That’s direct action to act on a problem that the other parties have talked about for years but have done nothing about. Yes, Canada’s largest corporations are going to start paying something resembling their fair share, David, and it’s high time that they did. Their approach has failed and it doesn’t work and we will change it.

David Walmsley: Mr. Harper, you won’t raise taxes. How do you raise the federal revenue?

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Actually, as you know, we’ve cut business taxes, and our corporate tax revenues are actually rising because we have a competitive tax environment that attracts investment.

I go back once again to what Mr. Mulcair is saying. He’s claiming he’s going to cut taxes on small business. Then why is the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and other experts saying that his plan will cause job losses because in fact he raises taxes. We’ve seen this NDP playbook everywhere. They claim they’re going to balance the budget, bring in billions of new spending, balance the budget through tax increases. What happens? We end up with job losses. That’s what we had with the NDP in power in Ontario. That’s what we had with the NDP in power in British Columbia, and we’re seeing exactly the same story here in Alberta.

We had a round of layoffs because of low oil prices. Now we’re having a round of layoffs because of the business tax increases of the NDP. In an unstable global economy we have competitive tax rates. They’re not super low but they are competitive. This is something we need to protect our economy and keep creating jobs. High taxes, permanent deficits, do not create jobs.

QUESTIONS, AND OPEN DEBATE

David Walmsley: Now, while the leaders catch their breath, we’ll move to the second part of the evening. This part has a different pace to it.

It is said that in the old days, the electorate used to choose their representatives. But now, as data becomes more sophisticated, politicians are able to choose as well as ignore key demographics. It affects everything from policy to selection to who the politicians choose to talk to. It marks a profound and, some would say, uncomfortable shift.

Wish me luck as I try to push the leaders off their well-rehearsed speaking notes and give each of them the opportunity to explain themselves more thoroughly and hopefully with fewer interruptions from the others. I will ask each leader a specific question that will be followed by an exchange between myself and that leader before turning it to open debate. Again, the leaders have no prior knowledge of these questions.

And we’ll start with Mr. Mulcair. Mr. Mulcair, you lead a party that has never run the country. Why should the electorate hand the national economy to you?
NDP leader Thomas Mulcair makes a point during the Globe and Mail Leaders Debate in Calgary, Alberta September 17, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Sturk – RTS1NLH

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair (Mike Sturk, Reuters)

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Well, thank you, David. And that is a key question in this campaign because, after 150 years of being told that we have no choice, that when we’re tired of the Liberal sponsorship scandal, we have to alternate back to the Conservatives, and when we get tired of the Conservative Senate scandal, then, hold on, for the first time in our history, there is another choice. The party that, according to Canada’s own Finance Department, has the best record for balanced budgets.

Tommy Douglas took over the province of Saskatchewan that was in bankruptcy after Liberal rule, ran 17 consecutive balanced budgets and brought in Medicare. I come from a family of ten kids. I’m the second oldest. We had to work hard. We lived within our means. We took care of each other. Those are the values that have guided me as a father, as a grandfather, and as a husband. I’m very proud of that. And those are the values that will guide me in the future.

We are a party that will make people our top priority. We brought in Medicare with Tommy Douglas. We’ll bring affordable quality child care across Canada.

David Walmsley: Your biography is entitled Strength of Conviction. But is your determination to avoid a federal deficit at all costs not simply opportunism and a defensive play?

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: It’s something that reflects exactly how I’ve been as a public administrator. I’ve been in public life for over 35 years. I practiced law as a, as a lawyer for ten years during that period, but I’ve always served the public. My wife Catherine is a psychologist who works in long-term care and palliative care. Our older son is a police officer for 17 years in the Quebec Provincial Police. Our youngest son is a college professor. We all serve the public.

I think that there’s no more noble calling. So I want to make sure that we do the right thing for people, going forward. I want to make sure that when my granddaughter goes to university, she doesn’t have to borrow at the level that young people are borrowing today. I want to make this a better society, and I don’t want to do like Mr. Trudeau, leave a massive debt on the backs of future generations.

David Walmsley: But this determination for a balanced budget, no deficit, is surely something that is a challenge to the NDP’s fabric.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Our fabric understands, as I just mentioned with the example of Tommy Douglas, but you can look at the Roy Romanows of this world. It’s in our DNA. We know that the only way to bring in something as important as quality, affordable child care across Canada is to build it on a solid foundation, and for us that means balanced budgets.

It doesn’t mean that there won’t be times when you have to spend. In 2008, we were in the worst recession since the 1930s. Of course everyone agreed that we had to spend at that time. But that’s not the case now. We don’t want to leave more billions on the backs of future generations. We’re al- already leaving them a massive ecological and social debt. They don’t need that economic debt as well.

David Walmsley: OK, I want to follow up – and this is a, a recurring issue as we, you know, enter the last part of the debate, and that is what all of your visions are for this great country. What, Mr. Mulcair, will you do to build a new economy?

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Well, one of the things that we will do is make sure that it’s a knowledge-based economy because we know that that’s the way of the future. The only way to create new wealth is to create new knowledge. And Canada has to be playing a more active role.

But when you look, when I travel across the country on what we were calling a kitchen table tour, I was in Sault Ste Marie. The young couple that I met, I was in their home, they told me that between them, they had $130,000 in student debt. With a $24,000 a year child care fee and houses where they are, when’s that young couple supposed to start thinking of starting a family? That’s the reality today. And believe it or not, family, having children is a good thing for that couple, but it’s also a good thing for the economy.

So let’s get this right for the future. Let’s make sure that we get our priorities right. My priority’s always going to be doing like we did when we brought in Medicare. That helped my family, but it’s helped Canadian families for generations now, and that’s why we want to make sure that our social programs are on a solid footing, and that includes balanced budgets.

David Walmsley: Okay, let’s go to the open-floor part of this, and Mr. Trudeau. Yes, Mr. Trudeau.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Mr. Mulcair keeps talking about investing in our future. He keeps talking about doing the right things for families who need help, except you can’t put forward a plan for investment like my plan on Stephen Harper’s budget. It takes the optimism that we need to invest once again in our future, to know that Canadians are capable of building a stronger future, and after the low growth that we’ve had for many years, it’s time to kick start the economy.

That’s why the – what I’m worried about saddling my kids with is a lack of jobs, a lack of good infrastructure, a lack of a future because a government didn’t want to invest in our country. Now, this is what our plan is all about. Building a stronger future. Mr. Mulcair is putting it off. He’s made balancing Stephen Harper’s budget his priority, which means he can’t give Canadians the help they need the way we will.

That’s what our plan is about, and I’m being straight and honest. Mr. Mulcair’s plan is to actually do what we know politicians of all parties – including my own – have done in the past, which is to say we’re going to balance the books and then oops, the numbers are worse than we thought. We’re going to have to break our promises. That’s not what I’m going to do. I’m being honest with Canadians. We’re going to run three deficits and we’re going to invest in the future Canadians need right now.

David Walmsley: Mr. Harper?

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Look, the, the whole essence of Mr. Mulcair’s plan is that he says he will balance the budget through tax hikes. That’s what the NDP’s tried everywhere. They left Ontario in a massive deficit, they left British Columbia —

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Turns out it was the Liberals.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: –– in a massive deficit. Manitoba is in a massive deficit. Alberta’s deficit got larger since they took office. The former Saskatchewan Auditor General says they left Saskatchewan in a deficit because tax hikes do not, do not grow the economy. They do not create jobs. They kill jobs and they hurt revenues. And we don’t want to go down that path.

Now, Mr. Trudeau says we can, we will have greater optimism by spending more. I actually think this is what Canadians fear. We don’t measure our level of optimism through our level of spending. We make sure we’re making investments in the things we need to, as we are doing in, in infrastructure, in training, in innovation. But we do that in a way that we know we can continue to do and continue to afford without raising taxes by having a balanced budget. And I think in this unstable global economy, that is an important guarantee for people’s future and why they should be optimistic.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Now, Mr. Harper, what you don’t understand is what Canadians can’t afford is to continue to be stuck in traffic every morning because there’s no reliable transit because the federal government hasn’t stepped up as a partner. You’ve been stuck in a motorcade for the past 10 years, but most Canadians are actually very aware that the transit underinvestment is a drag in our economy.

I’ve talked with municipalities and provinces right across this country who need a reliable federal partner to step up and invest. And people, serious economists across this country have said that, that we have a plan that is exactly what we need. No less than the person you appointed to head up the Privy Council, Kevi- Kevin Lynch actually said yes, a plan for investment right now is what we need.

The former Chair of the Bank of Canada, the, a list of the former Parliamentary Budget Officers, there are many people who’ve said now is the time to invest and that’s exactly what the Liberals are going to do. Not because we’re cheery and optimistic, but because we know that countries that believe in their future are willing to invest in their future ––

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Mr. Trudeau —

Hon. Justin Trudeau: –– and that’s what we’re going to do.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — we have the largest infrastructure investments in history right now, including major public transit announcements going on all over the country, including right in this city ––

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Yeah, at election time, Mr. Harper, at election time.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: –– (crosstalk) and those are the facts and I ask ––

Hon. Justin Trudeau: People see through your games.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: –– everybody to look at the numbers, to look at the numbers – they’re there – and we’re doing that without raising your taxes and without borrowing money.

Mr. Trudeau says he has former public servants and politicians who tell him it’s OK to spend more. I got to tell you something. Those people will tell you always to spend more. That’s what they will tell you. You got to be able ––

David Walmsley: OK.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: –– as a Prime Minister —

David Walmsley: I want to —

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: –– to know when to safeguard the taxpayers’ money.

David Walmsley: I want to give Mr. Mulcair a chance to come back. So please. Mr. Mulcair.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Thank you, David. Our plan is based on long-term vision. We know what has to be accomplished. We are not ––

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Long-term starts now ––

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: — doing like the Liberals ––

Hon. Justin Trudeau: — Mr. Mulcair.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: –– with their short-term approach, leaving tens of billions of dollars on the backs of future generations. And you know, Mr. Trudeau, you were talking before about Stephen Harper’s budgets, but you have voted for Stephen Harper’s budgets. I can guarantee you I have never voted for one of his budgets, and your very first vote as a Member of Parliament was to vote for his tax give-away to Canada’s largest corporations. I can guarantee you that Jack Layton and I fought that every single step of the way.

David Walmsley: OK, thank you. It’s ––

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: And voted against every tax break for middle class and working Canadians.

David Walmsley: –– I think what we’re seeing tonight is an extraordinary exchange of ideas between a now centrist NDP and a deficit favouring Liberal Party. So I want to turn this one to Mr. Trudeau. Taxing the richest and then spending it, why should Canadians who are already up to their eyes in debt be encouraged by your message?

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Actually, we are raising taxes on the wealthiest one percent so that we can lower them, so we can cut them, for the middle class. That is the shift that we feel we need. Mr. Mulcair talks about income inequality, you can hear the NDP talking about income inequality all the time, except they actually are not doing anything about it. Only the Liberal Party is going to ask people who’ve been very successful to do a little bit more so we can put money in the pockets of people who actually need it. That’s what our approach is, because we know that that’s what we have to do.

But on top of that and aside from that, we are also going to make historic investments in the future of our country because Canadians need transit, they need roads and bridges, we need clean water and wastewater treatment systems. We need things that are going to create good jobs for Canadians now as they build them and good jobs and prosperity going forward as our communities do better.

That’s what investing in our future is all about, and that’s not left or right, that’s ––

David Walmsley: So Mr. —

Hon. Justin Trudeau: –– what Canada needs.
From left to right, NDP Leader Tom Muclair, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, and Conservative Leader Stephen Harper are seen at various points during the Globe and Mail leaders’ debate, in this photo illustration, on Thursday, September 17, 2015. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

Photo illustration (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

David Walmsley: Mr. Trudeau, we know that you propose what is really a fairly modest deficit against the $2 trillion national economy. What do you consider to be the biggest single challenge you face, because when I look for the cost of your platform, I can’t add it up.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: We have, we were the first party to put a fully costed framework that said that we indeed are going to run three modest deficits over the first three years so we can balance the books in 2019, because what Canada needs right now is growth. What we need – because Mr. Harper has been unable to deliver it, having the worst growth record of any Prime Minister since the depths of the Great Depression – is a plan to grow the economy. And you do that by investing in our communities, in transit, in green infrastructure, in the kinds of things that are going to contribute ––

David Walmsley: But let, let’s go back to the —

Hon. Justin Trudeau: –– to growing the economy.

David Walmsley: — to your idea of an infrastructure bank. Recreational centres, water facilities, are these areas that are part of the federal government’s role?

Hon. Justin Trudeau: The federal government’s role in a country like Canada is to be a partner serving citizens with communities, with municipalities and with – with provinces. We will respond to the needs that Canadians have on the ground to improve their quality of life, to build better opportunities in their cities. That is what the federal government should be. That’s not what the federal government has been over the past decade as Mr. Harper has refused to engage with the provinces, has not been a solid partner to municipalities in the transit and infrastructure investments that are needed, and that’s exactly what we’re going to turn around.

It’s not ––

David Walmsley: So we’re – we’re – we’re —

Hon. Justin Trudeau: –– up to the federal government.

David Walmsley: — in Alberta, we’re in Alberta this evening.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Yes.

David Walmsley: There’s clear sense that structural change is happening to the economy. So again, for yourself, what will you do, what are your policies to build that new economy?

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Well, one of the, one of the facts we’re looking at right now is, because of the challenges with low oil prices, we have construction and engineering multinational firms here in Calgary who are suddenly bidding on local contracts, that they’ve never had the bandwidth to do before. This is the time to invest in your hometown, Mr. Harper. You need to step up and we need to step up as a government and be there for municipalities like Calgary, who are trying to create new avenues of opportunity, given the cyclical nature of our commodities.

This is exactly a moment to invest, when interest rates are low, when our debt-to-GDP is low, and when the economy has been flat for ten years because Mr. Harper hasn’t stepped up for his hometown or for anywhere across the country.

David Walmsley: Let’s go to open floor. Mr. Harper.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, look, if I could respond to that, as I said before, we are making record investments in our infrastructure right now, including a federal infrastructure program that is rolling out across the country. But, you know, let’s be frank about Mr. Trudeau’s plan.

The reason Mr. Trudeau is running deficits is not because he has some underlying economic philosophy. It’s because he went around the country and promised far more money than he actually had and found out that taxing a few wealthy people a little bit does not cover that. And so now he’s trying to run, saying deficits are a good thing.

We did a lot of work to make sure we came out of deficits after the great recession without cutting our social programs. That’s what we’ve done. This is a guarantee to people, to you ladies and gentlemen out there, that when we’ve lowered your taxes, they’re going to stay down, and the investments we make are sustainable.

And when Mr. Trudeau gets us off the anchor of a balanced budget for no apparent reason, we know where that’s, the Liberals have done federally and in Ontario, that goes on forever and it gets worse. And that is not a risk you or our, our economy in this fragile ––

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Mr. Harper,

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: –– economic environment can afford.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Mr. Harper, you have run deficits in good years. You have run deficits in bad years. The only time you’ve said that deficits are not going to be run is in election years. The fact of the matter is you stood on stages like these, looked at Canadians three times and promised not to bring in deficits, and yet, that’s exactly what you’ve done.

The reason that we’ve struck in def- we’re stuck in deficits for so long is because you don’t understand that giving tax breaks and benefits to the wealthiest Canadians is not a way to grow the economy anymore. We have low growth, you have the worst job creation record since World War II of any Prime Minister, and that’s what Canadians are feeling. You are disconnected from people’s reality. We need once again to get this country investing in its own future ––

David Walmsley: Mr. Harper,

Hon. Justin Trudeau: –– and that’s what you haven’t done in ten years.

David Walmsley: (Crosstalk).

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Let me, let me correct the facts. We ran surpluses before we had the global financial crisis. When the global financial crisis came, everyone in the world ran deficits and we told Canadians we would run a massive stimulus program, get it out the door quickly, sustain our economy through that period, and that it would be temporary and the deficit would fall until it was eliminated. And we’ve done exactly that on exactly the schedule we said we would do it, and we’re now in our second year of a balanced budget.

David Walmsley: OK, Mr. Mulcair.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Why would we return to deficits now when we have an unstable global economy and we need to make sure we can assure people ––

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Because we need to (crosstalk)

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: –– of the benefits ––

David Walmsley: Mr.- Mr. Mulcair.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: –– of delivering (crosstalk). That’s why.

David Walmsley: Mr. Mulcair, please. Mr. Trudeau. Mr. Mulcair.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Back on July 19th, Mr. Trudeau gave a press conference at which he said he would balance the books, he would run balanced budgets nonstop.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Actually, not nonstop.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Just a few weeks after that, he announced that he would run $10 billion a year in deficits. Now you just heard him say the same thing. He was clearly criticizing the fact that Mr. Harper had run deficits. But that’s exactly what he’s planning to do. So I think, Justin, that it’s only fair to say that when your advisors tell you one thing and another, and they’re totally contradictory, pick one. You just can’t say them both.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Mr. ––

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: With regard to tax cuts ––

Hon. Justin Trudeau: –– Mr. Mulcair —

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: –– to the wealthiest, your first vote in Canadian Parliament was to vote for Mr. Harper’s tax cuts for the wealthiest.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Mr. Mulcair, I ––

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Now you’re against ––

Hon. Justin Trudeau: –– I ––

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: –– what you did.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: –– am looking straight at Canadians and being honest the way I always have. We said we are committed to balanced budgets, and we are. We will balance that budget in 2019, because Canadians need investment and growth right now.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Mr. Walmsley, there’s another point ––

Hon. Justin Trudeau: You are looking at ––

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: –– that has to be brought up, which ––

Hon. Justin Trudeau: –– Canadians, you are looking at Canadians ––

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: –– is that Mr. Harper claims that he made no cuts to social programs. I’m sorry Mr. Harper, when you sat down with the provincial Ministers and announced that you were going to be cutting the funding formula by up to $36 billion for health care, that’s called cutting social programs.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, let’s, let’s be, let’s be, let’s be absolutely clear on what the facts are. Under this government, our transfers for health to the provinces have risen from $20 billion ––

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: It’s what you’re planning to do, Mr. Harper.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: –– to $34 billion.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Stop denying ––

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: That’s a 70 percent increase.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: –– reality.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: And that number will grow every single year into the future. We’ll hit over $40 billion ––

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Mr. Harper, you raised ––

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: –– by the end of the decade.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: –– the age for Old Age Security ––

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: That is, that’s the record.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: –– from 65 to 67. You didn’t make that announcement ––

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Those, those, those ––

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: –– to a group of hard rock miners in Sudbury.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: –– changes, Mr. Mulcair ––

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: You made that announcement ––

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: –– don’t come into effect ––

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: –– from (crosstalk) in the Swiss Alps.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: –– until the year ––

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Is that political courage?

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: –– 2023. What we’re done in the main- meantime ––

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: You’re cutting social programs ––

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: –– is we brought in ––

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: — period.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: –– the biggest increase to the Guaranteed Income Supplement for our most valuable seniors in a quarter century. And Mr. Mulcair, you like to talk about the fact you voted against business tax cuts, you voted against small business tax cuts ––

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Mr. Harper, you just ––

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: –– you voted against ––

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: –– made the statement.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: –– tax cuts for working people ––

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: That statement will be (crosstalk) ––

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: –– for (crosstalk) ––

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: You said you never cut social programs for the middle class.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: –– Mr. Mulcair, Mr. Mulcair ––

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: –– (crosstalk) having Medicare ––

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: –– (crosstalk) health care (crosstalk) ––

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: –– you’re raising the retirement age.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: –– (crosstalk)

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: You know that that’s not true.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: –– both retirement and health care, and the Public Accounts ––

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Mr. Harper, Mr. Mulcair has talked about health care transfers ––

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: –– and the financial (crosstalk) government to make (crosstalk).

Hon. Justin Trudeau: –– but he just stepped back from that promise. He promised to increase health care transfers, and now has said oh no, balancing the books is more important.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: We are increasing ––

Hon. Justin Trudeau: That’s not what Canadians need.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: — investments, we are increasing them.

David Walmsley: Thank you very much. Thank you.

We now move to the final question of the debate, and it goes to Mr. Harper. Mr. Harper, you’re going to need some new ideas. The reality is the oil patch resources in general are going to be a smaller part of the Canadian economy. And it is clear that, under your watch, Canada is no longer an international champion on many different data points. We have record household debt, we have minimal growth, and in many cases, we have stagnant wages.

Why do you deserve more time ––
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau (L), NDP leader Thomas Mulcair (C) and Conservative leader Stephen Harper walk on stage before photo opportunity prior to the beginning of the Globe and Mail Leaders Debate in Calgary, Alberta September 17, 2015. (MIKE STURK/Reuters)

(Mike Sturk/Reuters)

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, let me ––

David Walmsley: –– to find a cure?

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Let me be clear on that. Those things are just – David, I just don’t accept what you just said. You look over the past ten years, whether it’s income growth, whether it’s job growth, we have done better than all the major developed economies. It hasn’t been great because we are living in a terribly unstable and risky global economy.

Right now, a portion of our economy is being hard hit by the fallen oil prices. That’s something that concerns me. I come from here. It affects people I know personally and personal friends and family for a long period of time. We’ll do something about that. But to suggest for a second that that has been all there is to our policy is just false.

Our policy’s based on what I call the three Ts, the three Is: taxes, getting them down, keeping them down, making them competitive; training, making sure we’re investing speci- particularly in things that we know there’s labour demand for in the future; trade, opening up markets. We now have, to the trade agreements this government’s signed, we’re going to have in the future access to over half of global GDP. Investing in innovation with our manufacturers and reforming our immigration system to make it even more effective for our economy and making record investments in infrastructure.

That’s why I believe that Canadians are optimistic when they look at the future.

David Walmsley: Well, let’s drill down on trade, for example.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Yeah.

David Walmsley: What do you say to the auto sector as you look at the Pacific Trade plan?

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, look, we know the auto sector has concerns on that particular – as do others – but David, what I say is this: you know, we’re entering the final stages of a trade discussion in the Asia Pacific that I think, frankly, is going to conclude successfully, that is going to be the basis of the global trade network in the Asia Pacific for the generation to come.

And what I say to the auto sector in particular – I’m not suggesting they will necessarily like everything that is in that, but what I am saying is we simply cannot afford as a country to have our auto sector shut out of global supply chains. That would be a disaster. We’re going to make sure we get the best deal for that. And all of our sectors, but we are committed as a government, to making sure we do not fall behind in our access to a global trading economy which is so integrated. If we do that, that would be disastrous for this country.

David Walmsley: All right. You know better that most the challenges and the problems that come, that can’t be predicted.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Right.

David Walmsley: You’re facing an economy that is incredibly challenged, that demands new thinking.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Right.

David Walmsley: What are you thinking of for the new economy? How do we turn this from resources to knowledge and the sharing economy?

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Look, David, I have come to work now for seven years in a row with nothing but economic crises around the world. You know, as a banking crisis, then it’s a sovereign debt crisis, a housing crisis. We now have market chaos in China. We have the fallen commodity prices. We do, we do have to do two things. We do have to respond to these crises, but we have to operate on a long-term plan, and that is what we have been doing.

And you know, that long-term plan is not only not just about resources, but it is also including resources. I don’t want to suggest for a second that we are not going to have a vibrant resource sector. The fact that we have an unparalleled resource endowment, we have one of the highly educated workforces in the world, and we have innovative and progressive manufacturers, that we cover the complete spectrum of the economy is one of the reasons Canada is able to weather these global economic storms better than most. And we are committed to making sure that all of these sectors move forward together.

David Walmsley: OK. Thank you very much, Mr. Harper. We’re going to now go to Mr. Mulcair and the open floor. Please. The, one of the questions that the Prime Minister responded to was with respect to his vision. What do you think that the NDP can do to transition our economy beyond the buffeting winds we have with oil prices, China, and the US Fed today saying we’re not going to raise rates again?

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Well, I believe it is possible, David, to build a Canada that is more generous and more prosperous. Mr. Harper tends to believe that everybody’s in it on their own. I think that we’re all in this together, and I think that we should try to work to raise everybody up. You know, I do come from a very large family and times sometimes were tough, but I’ve seen what it is when people work together and they hold together. They try to give each other that helping hand.

I also know that it’s high time that around the world people started looking at us differently. I want our democratic institutions respected here at home and our international reputation respected abroad. I want to make sure that every young person gets the opportunities that they need and, frankly, that our young peo- that our seniors get the, get the help that they deserve.

David Walmsley: Mr. ––

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: That’s why we propose to raise the Guaranteed Income Supplement to raise several hundred thousand of our poorest seniors ––

David Walmsley: Mr. ––

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: –– out of poverty.

David Walmsley: –– Trudeau, what do you say to Mr. Harper’s position that the Liberals will allow for a deficit, but then there will be slippage and that deficit gets out of control?

Hon. Justin Trudeau: On the contrary. The reason Mr. Harper hasn’t been able to get out of deficit is that he hasn’t created growth. His cuts to and underspending to veterans programs, to First Nations, who we haven’t talked about enough tonight, because – or at all – because they’re an important element in kil- building our economy and making sure that we’re creating proper partnerships and, and moving our resources, as well as creating educational opportunities for young people across this country by investing, for example, on the Liberal platform, $2.6 billion in First Nations education.

We have an awful lot we need to do to keep investing in growing this economy. Mr. Harper continues to think that giving tax cuts and benefits to the wealthiest Canadians will somehow create growth. Well, it hasn’t. And that’s why we need a change.

Mr. Mulcair talks about all the right things, but he’s not going to be able to actually act on them because, unfortunately, he has back-loaded his promises and he’s committed, he’s committed to balance when we don’t need balance. With low interest rates right now, with a declining debt-to-GDP ratio, and with a flat economy, we need to invest in our future. That’s what confident economies do, and that’s what the Liberal Party of Canada is proposing.

It’s the right plan to help Canadians now.

David Walmsley: Mr. Harper?

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Well, look, when it came out the other day that it was confirmed by the Auditor General that we actually had a surplus last year, not just this year, but a surplus last year, Mr. Trudeau immediately came out and said well, that’s because they’ve cut veterans and they’ve cut seniors and they’ve cut infrastructure.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: You talk to seniors and you talk to veterans ––

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: And of course, people look, people look ––

Hon. Justin Trudeau: –– and they agree.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: — at what’s actually in the annual financial statements, and spending in all of those areas has actually gone up. And the way we balanced the budget was we actually did increase revenues. We did it by cutting taxes. And I guess what I say to people is the same thing I said before. We’re not saying in this fragile global economy everything is great. We have significant risks and significant challenges. What we’re saying we’re doing is we’re making sure we’re investing in the things that will cause long-term growth and we’re investing in things that help people in their pocketbooks to get education, to save ––

David Walmsley: Mr. Mulcair.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: –– to retire, and higher taxes and permanent deficits is a risk that buys nothing for our people.

David Walmsley: Thank you.

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: And as we ––

David Walmsley: Mr. —

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: –– we’ve got to reject that kind of a plan.

David Walmsley: Mr. Mulcair.

Hon. Thomas Mulcair: Mr. Harper was elected on a promise to make Ottawa better, to, to change Ottawa, but unfortunately, it’s Ottawa that changed Mr. Harper. Corruption has actually increased, and that’s part of his legacy, but also Ottawa has become a more divisive and a meaner place. Our relationships with the provinces are more divisive and meaner under Mr. Harper. He’s refused to attend any meetings of the Council of the Federation.

I come out of provincial politics. I know that it’s part of my job, if I become Prime Minister, to sit down regularly with the provincial Premiers to work with them on important issues facing them, and on things that we want to bring forward, like quality, affordable child care. It’s a different approach.

David Walmsley: Mr. Trudeau.

Hon. Justin Trudeau: Now, one of the things that I think is fairly clear is that I disagree with these two gentlemen on a number of things. But the main thing that I disagree with them on is their lack of ambition for our country.

Mr. Harper wants you to think that better just isn’t possible. Well, that’s not true. In this country, better is always possible. Mr. Mulcair talks about making things better, but isn’t going to act on it because he has no plan to build the economy we need.

David Walmsley: Thank you very much.

So ladies and gentlemen, there you have it. This much-anticipated Globe and Mail debate on the economy comes to an end. You’ve heard a wide range of different views. and in a month’s time, it will be voting day.

I would like to thank everyone who has joined us made this evening possible. To Mayor Nenshi for hosting us here in Calgary. We at the Globe and Mail believe in the national debate, and I am sure that you agree that we got one tonight.

A final word of thanks of course, to the three leaders, Mr. Harper, Mr. Mulcair, Mr. Trudeau. We wish you all well. We know that you have a common interest in doing the best for Canada. You just have a different way of doing it.

Stay with us. We’ll be carrying the post-debate scrums later. But first, Jane Taber of The Globe and Mail joins us now to begin the post-debate debate. I’m David Walmsley, the Editor-in-Chief of The Globe and Mail. Thank you, and have a good evening.

Full Text Political Transcripts February 11, 2014: Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s 2014 budget speech in the House of Commons ‘The Road to Balance’

CANADIAN POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

POLITICAL HEADLINES

Full text of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s budget speech in the House of Commons

Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty tables the federal budget in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, February 11, 2014.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred ChartrandMinister of Finance Jim Flaherty tables the federal budget in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, February 11, 2014.

Federal budget: Full text of ‘The Road to Balance’

OTTAWA — Mr. Speaker, nearly 150 years ago, Canada was founded with fiscal responsibility as its cornerstone. The men and women who carved this great country out of the wilderness simply called it “good government.”

That’s what Minister of Finance John Rose was talking about when he stood before this assembly to deliver Canada’s first budget speech in 1868. He said, “I say that we ought to be most careful in our outlay, and consider well every shilling we expend.”

Now, that’s just old-fashioned English for old-fashioned common sense. And it is that solid, Canadian common sense that has guided our Government through good times and bad.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today to present Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2014.

This prudent plan builds on our record of strong, sound and consistent fiscal management. It is a low-tax plan to promote jobs and economic growth and support Canadian families. And it is a common sense plan that will see Canada return to a balanced budget in 2015.

Economic Action Plan 2014 sticks to the principles that we adopted when I rose to deliver our Government’s first budget in 2006 during good times. What did our Government do then, when our budget was in surplus and when few could see dark clouds on the horizon?

— We paid down our federal debt.

— We lowered taxes for families and job creators.

— We made sure our fiscal house was in order.

Why did we do this? Because it was the responsible way to a brighter future for Canadians.

Financial prudence now leads to financial prosperity in the future. It leads to opportunity. And so it was that when economic bad times came, our country was better prepared than most.

Since the depths of the recession Canada has led the G-7 in job creation. Coming out of the recession Canada had a triple-A credit rating with a stable outlook—which was and still is virtually unmatched among our peers. We have the best net debt-to-GDP ratio among G-7 nations.

There are many reasons to be optimistic. There are signs of recovery around us. But there are also troubled waters.
The world economy is still fragile—one need look no further than Europe and the emerging economies to see that.

Here at home, household debt is still higher than we’d like to see. And there are still too many Canadians looking for work, and too many employers looking for workers. There is still work to be done.

As my favourite Father of Confederation, Thomas D’Arcy McGee, once said, “We are in the rapids and must go on.” And so, even as the times get better again, we will stay the course that has worked so well.

Mr. Speaker, Sir John A. Macdonald—my other favourite Father of Confederation—could have been talking about our Economic Action Plan when he said, “the Government are merely trustees for the public.” And that is why we are so committed to balancing the budget and returning Canada to a position of fiscal strength.

When governments run prolonged deficits, they are spending money that belongs to future generations. Deficit spending endangers social programs we benefit from and our children will soon depend on.

We also recognize that balanced budgets are important to the long-term prosperity of this country, inspiring confidence in investors and consumers, whose dollars grow the economy and create jobs, and ensuring interest rates stay low.

Canadians have trusted us with the economy and we have delivered. As we have promised, our Government remains committed to balancing the budget in 2015.

But I must be clear: we did not do this on the backs of ordinary Canadians or Canadians in need, or at the expense of our provinces and territories. We did not cut the programs Canadians rely on. We did not cut transfers to our provinces and territories—money they use for things like education and health care.

Rather, we did this by getting our own fiscal house in order. And, Mr. Speaker, that is exactly how our Government will continue. Our Government has reduced direct program spending for the third year in a row in 2012—13. That is something no other government has done in decades.

Our Government continues to eliminate waste that will cut the cost of government without cutting programs Canadians
depend on.

Going forward:

— The Government will freeze the operating expenses of departments.

— We will continue to divest government assets when in the best interest of Canadians to do so.

By doing these things, we will not only balance the budget in 2015, we will achieve a surplus. But let me be clear: a return to surplus is not a licence to spend recklessly. What we will do—what we have always done—is stay the course.

We will make sure Canada’s fiscal position remains strong, strong enough to weather any future global economic storms. That starts with paying down the debt. And keeping taxes low.

Even in the toughest economic times, our Government has worked hard to reduce the tax burden for Canadian families and Canadian businesses. In fact, the federal tax burden is the lowest it has been in 50 years.

Since taking office we:

— Delivered more than 160 tax relief measures.

— Lowered the GST to 5 per cent from 7 per cent.

— Introduced pension income splitting for seniors.

— Created the Working Income Tax Benefit—WITB—to help ensure that low-income workers are better off by taking a job.

Now, an average family of four pays $3,400 less in tax in a year. But we also know that taxes help fund programs and services Canadians rely on. And we will keep closing tax loopholes so every Canadian pays their fair share.

Mr. Speaker, by keeping taxes low we have created the best environment for business investment in the G-7. And those businesses create jobs for Canadians. Creating jobs and opportunities remains our Government’s top priority.

We already have the best record for job creation among G-7 nations. Since the depths of the economic recession, employment has increased by more than 1 million. These jobs are overwhelmingly full-time and in the private sector.
And we’re making sure that opportunities are there for everyone.

We have invested in apprenticeship programs and measures to increase the numbers of people with disabilities, young people and Aboriginal Canadians in the workforce by helping them find the job training they need. But there is more we can and will do:

— That’s why today I am pleased to announce the Canada Apprentice Loan, which will give apprentices registered in Red Seal trades access to interest-free student loans millions of other Canadians have benefited from previously.

— And that is why the Prime Minister announced more than $1.9 billion in new funding to implement the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act.

Canada has one of the best-educated workforces in the world. In fact, the number of Canadians under 25 with university degrees has gone up by more than 50 per cent since 2002.

Still, getting that first job after finishing college or university can be challenging. To help young people get the first, critical work experience they need, our Government will focus investment to support internships in high-demand fields and in small and medium-sized businesses.

As well, we will support two programs that will help people with disabilities find jobs and stay employed.

— Ready, Willing & Able is an initiative to help Canadians with intellectual disabilities become part of the workforce.

— We will also invest in a program to help young people with autism find rewarding jobs.

We will also implement an enhanced Job Matching Service to help unemployed Canadians get back to work by connecting them with employers looking to hire individuals with their skill set.

We will also introduce a new Expression of Interest system to ensure Canada has an efficient, flexible immigration system that matches the needs of employers.

Mr. Speaker, Canada leads the G-7 when it comes to investing in post-secondary research. And we know that investments in science and technology help Canadian business remain competitive while creating high-paying jobs.

That’s why we have invested more than $11 billion in new resources since 2006 to support science, technology and innovative companies that are opening new frontiers for Canada. And that’s why I am very pleased today to announce our Government’s investment in the Canada First Research Excellence Fund.

This fund will support the strategic research priorities of Canada’s post-secondary institutions and help them excel globally in research areas that create long-term economic advantages for Canada.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, Budget 2014 will result in the largest annual increase in funding for research through the granting councils in over a decade.

In Canada’s very first budget speech Finance Minister John Rose said, “What this country wants is care and judgement in the development of its resources.” Those words still ring true today. That’s why our Government is promoting safe, responsible resource development that is not bogged down by unnecessary red tape.

Minister Rose also said, “We must not neglect the means necessary to bring our products of all kinds to a profitable market.”

That is also true today, especially when it comes to energy. Making sure that Canadian energy remains available to markets around the world is a priority for this Government.

That’s why I am happy to announce today that Economic Action Plan 2014 sets aside funds for review of projects like the Energy East Pipeline proposal.

In addition, Canada has always been an exporting nation. Our investment in the new Windsor-Detroit crossing means Canadian goods will get to market faster, allowing businesses to grow, expand trade and help to secure a prosperous future.

Our Government is committed to protecting Canada’s environment. And that commitment is evident in our ongoing investment in National Parks. In fact, since coming to office we have added more than 160,000 square kilometres to our National Parks and marine conservation system.

These priceless natural and historical places are a spectacular legacy for our children and we must ensure they remain pristine. I am pleased to announce that our Government is investing to maintain these national treasures for the next generation to enjoy.

We will make substantial investments through Parks Canada to improve the highways, bridges and dams located in our National Parks and along our historic canals.

We know partnering with committed citizen groups can make conservation dollars stretch farther. That’s why we introduced the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program, which doubled the impact of every dollar invested in its first year.

Today we are increasing our commitment to protect even more sensitive fish habitat in the future.
Canada is blessed with a network of recreational trails that allow Canadians to connect with nature all year round.

It pleases me to announce that our Government will partner with the National Trails Coalition to make this recreational experience even better, fulfilling another of our 2011 platform commitments.

Families are the lifeblood of every community. Our Government is working hard to ensure that Canadian families are protected in their communities. As part of these efforts, we will create a DNA-based Missing Persons Index to help bring some peace to the families of missing persons. For that, I want to thank Judy Peterson.

Mr. Speaker, we are also standing up for hard-working families trying to make ends meet. Our Consumers First agenda will help ensure Canadians are also protected in the marketplace. When Canadian families spend their hard-earned money, they should be confident that they are being treated fairly in a competitive marketplace. That’s why we took steps to increase competition in the wireless sector, which has reduced wireless rates by 20 per cent.

That’s why we are:

— Taking steps to lower wholesale roaming rates within Canada; and

— Giving the CRTC the power to impose financial penalties on companies that do not comply with the rules.
We will also:

— Introduce legislation to address the price gap between identical goods sold in Canada and the United States.

— Continue our investments in Canada’s food safety system by hiring more inspectors to ensure the food destined for
Canadian dinner tables is safe.

— Prohibit the pay-to-pay practice that charges consumers for paper bills— including printed credit card statements.

— Reduce red tape for charities by enabling them to apply for registration and file their annual returns electronically.

— Make major investments to improve broadband coverage in rural and northern communities.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud of our Government’s record of fiscal restraint and good management. This record has been the envy of the world. I believe we have been, as Sir John A. wanted us to be, “trustees for the public.”

And I know that I speak on behalf of all my colleagues when I say that we are truly grateful to all Canadians for putting their trust in us.

We have worked hard. And we will continue to work hard to, as Thomas D’Arcy McGee said, “strengthen the faith of our people in their own future, the faith of every Canadian in Canada.”

Mr. Speaker, the plan unveiled today is another prudent step toward that brighter future.

Thank you.

Political Musings November 4, 2013: Harper’s campaign style speech at the Conservative Party Convention aims at 2015

CANADIAN POLITICAL MUSINGS

POLITICAL MUSINGS

Harper’s campaign style speech at the Conservative Party Convention aims at 2015

November 4, 2013

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper rallied 3000 of the “party faithful” at the Conservative Party convention on Friday evening, Nov. 1, 2013 in Calgary with all eyes towards the 2015 Federal election. The 45-minute, 3,900-word…READ MORE

Political Musings October 21, 2013: Harper government’s throne speech lays out agenda leading to 2015 election

CANADIAN POLITICAL MUSINGS

POLITICAL MUSINGS

Harper government’s throne speech lays out agenda leading to 2015 election

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper presented his conservative government’s agenda for the second session of the 41st Parliament in the Speech from the Throne read by Governor-General David Johnson Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013. The new session of…READ MORE

Full Text Political Transcripts October 16, 2013: Stephen Harper’s Conservative Government’s Speech from the Throne 2013

CANADIAN POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

POLITICAL HEADLINES

Full Speech from the Throne 2013

Source: PMO, 10-16-13   What was in the throne speech?

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Sharon Johnston look on as Governor General David Johnston reads the Speech from the Throne in the Senate Chamber on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Wednesday October 16, 2013. (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Honourable Senators, Members of the House of Commons, Ladies and gentlemen, Let us begin this day together by honouring in silent reflection those whose lives were tragically taken at Lac-Mégantic. I come before you today as one proud Canadian among a vast nation of these, sincere in congratulation on this opening day of the Second Session of the Forty-first Parliament of Canada. I bear the happy wishes and deep affection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, whose family has this year been blessed with the birth of Prince George. Parliamentarians, you gather today with the high confidence and higher expectation of Canadians. Remember that our nation has embraced a unique set of indelible qualities that must guide your deliberations in this Parliament. Consider this: we are inclusive. We are 35 million people gathered from every part of the world. We welcome the contribution of all those who inhabit this land—from the first of us to the latest among us. This year, we celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation. This extraordinary document is part of the legal foundation of our country. It recognized the rights of Aboriginal people in Canada for the first time and established the basis of their relations with the Crown. Consider this: we are honourable. People of peace, we use our military power sparingly; but when we do so we do so with full conviction, gathering our forces as men and women who believe that the freedoms we enjoy cannot be taken from us. This clarity focuses our might in terrible times. And wherever and whenever we unleash that might, we raise our grateful voices and our prayers to honour those who have stood in harm’s way for us. Consider this: we are selfless. Our survival has been sustained by humility and acceptance of our mutual interdependence. Giving lies in our very nature, certain in our hearts that none but the gift passed from an open hand will multiply as those we help better themselves, those they love and, at length, the country they call home. Consider this: we are smart. We deplore self-satisfaction, yearning rather for self-improvement. We love learning and cherish our right to it. We are united, prosperous and free precisely because we ensure that Canadians have opportunities to learn, excel, advance, and thus to contribute. Consider this: we are caring. Our abiding concern for the common good of our neighbours—in each community—makes us responsive. We do not abandon our fellows to scrape by in times of distress or natural disaster. Inspired by our common bond, we come swiftly and resiliently to the aid of those in need. Today, as we contemplate our 150th anniversary, the eyes and ears and expectations of Canadians turn toward this Parliament, in trust that those who stand here in their place will relentlessly advance and uphold ideas that are inclusive, honourable, selfless, smart and caring at every turn without fail. Let us not disappoint. And with that spirit and direction, let us turn now to the present. Two and a half years ago, Canadians gave our Government a strong mandate: a mandate to protect jobs and our economy; a mandate to keep taxes low; a mandate to make our families and communities safe. Despite ongoing uncertainty and instability from beyond our shores, our Government remains focused on these priorities. We made tough choices—the right choices for Canadian families. The results are clear: more Canadians have good jobs than ever before; families are paying lower taxes; our financial house is in order. As the world looks to recovery, a rare opportunity now lies before us as Canadians: the opportunity to build on our ingenuity, our immense natural wealth, and our values and stability; the opportunity to secure the future, for our generation, and our children’s generation. It is the opportunity to lead the world in security and prosperity—not for the sake of doing so, but so that Canadian families who work hard, pay their taxes and play by the rules can get ahead. This is Canada’s moment; together we will seize it. And as we do, we draw inspiration from our founders, leaders of courage and audacity. Nearly 150 years ago, they looked beyond narrow self-interest. They faced down incredible challenges—geographic, military, and economic. They were undaunted. They dared to seize the moment that history offered. Pioneers, then few in number, reached across a vast continent. They forged an independent country where none would have otherwise existed. In the words of Thomas D’Arcy McGee: “I see in the not remote distance one great nationality bound, like the shield of Achilles, by the blue rim of ocean. I see it quartered into many communities, each disposing of its internal affairs, but all bound together by free institutions…” With hard work, sacrifice and common sense, those Canadian men and women built this country. In so doing, they founded a constitutional democracy, among the most enduring history has known. As we look to the 150th anniversary of our Confederation, we are reminded that ours is a rich inheritance: a legacy of freedom; the birthright of all humanity and the courage to uphold it; the rule of law, and the institutions to protect it; respect for human dignity and diversity. Guided by these values, we Canadians—Aboriginal, French, English, people from all corners of the globe—strive together for our families and a brighter future. We are on the cusp of a moment that is uniquely Canada’s. Just as our founders dared, so too must we. We must seize this moment to secure prosperity, for Canadians now, and the generations to follow.

1. Creating Jobs and Opportunities for Canadians

Balanced Budgets and Reducing the Cost of Government

Creating jobs and securing economic growth is and will remain our Government’s top priority. When disaster struck the world economy, our Government’s decisive and pragmatic leadership navigated Canada through the worst global recession in a generation. Even before the recession hit, our Government was prepared. It maintained budget surpluses and paid down billions from the national debt. It lowered taxes for Canadians and job-creating businesses. During the downturn, our Government’s Economic Action Plan took the steps necessary to safeguard our economy. It protected Canadian jobs. It invested in infrastructure and productivity. And it controlled spending, while maintaining growing transfers that support health care, education and retirement. In spite of continuing risks from beyond our shores, our Government is leading the world b.y example. It secured the commitment of the world’s largest economies to put in place credible plans to achieve financial sustainability. And it set clear targets to bring our own deficit down. Canada now leads the G-7—in job creation; in income growth; and in keeping debt levels low. Canada is now among only a few countries in the world with a triple-A credit rating. By taking decisive action Canada has stayed strong where others have faltered. But we cannot be complacent. The global economy still faces significant risks from factors that we do not control. We must stay the course. And sound management remains our Government’s guide. Canadian families know they cannot prosper by continually spending more than they earn. Our Government is no different.

  • Last year’s deficit was less than forecast. Our Government will balance the budget by 2015.
  • And it will go further. Our Government will enshrine in law its successful and prudent approach. Our Government will introduce balanced-budget legislation. It will require balanced budgets during normal economic times, and concrete timelines for returning to balance in the event of an economic crisis.
  • Our Government has already set an ambitious debt-to-GDP target of 25 per cent by 2021. And it will reduce that ratio to pre-recession levels by 2017.

Just as our Government manages debt, so too is it tackling spending. Every day, Canadian families make tough choices about how to spend their hard-earned money. Guided by this example, our Government will continue reducing the size and cost of Government to ensure that taxpayers get value for money.

  • Our Government will freeze the overall federal operating budget, which will continue to restrain hiring.
  • Our Government will make further targeted reductions to internal government spending.
  • Our Government will reform the way the federal system manages spending.
  • Our Government will review federal assets; when it is in the best interest of Canadians, they will be sold.
  • Our Government recognizes the value of a lean, competent and committed public service. Public Service pay and benefit levels will be reasonable, responsible, and in the public interest.
  • Our Government has already reformed federal government pension plans, to ensure that parliamentarians and public servants pay their fair share. It will reform disability and sick-day entitlements and work with employees to get them back to work as soon as possible.
  • Our Government will amend the Public Service Labour Relations Act to ensure that the Public Service is affordable, modern and high-performing.
  • Our Government will increase performance accountability in the Public Service to provide better service to Canadians, at a reduced cost, and to better recognize dedicated and effective employees.
  • And we will make government more efficient and responsive to Canadians – by, for example, moving from 63 different email systems to one.

Jobs for Canadians

Canadians want good, well-paying, stable jobs. And our country needs Canadians working. Canadians know that businesses create jobs. So our Government lowered their tax burden and cut red tape. Canada now has the best job creation record in the G-7—one million net new jobs since the depths of the recession. These are overwhelmingly full-time, well-paying, private sector jobs. But our Government is not stopping here. Canada has one of the best-educated workforces in the world. But there are too many people without jobs and too many jobs without people.

  • To address this job creation gap, our Government is implementing the Canada Job Grant. It will increase employment by ensuring Canadians are able to fill job vacancies.
  • Our Government will take further steps to see that those traditionally under-represented in the workforce, including people with disabilities, youth, and Aboriginal Canadians, find the job-training they need.
  • Our Government will work with provinces and territories on a new generation of labour market agreements to more effectively connect Canadians with disabilities to employers and in-demand jobs.
  • Canada’s youth unemployment rate is already much lower than many advanced countries. But it remains too high. Our Government will redirect federal investments in youth employment to provide real-life work experience in high-demand fields.
  • Our Government recognizes the tremendous potential of Canada’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit populations to strengthen the growing Canadian economy. It will continue working with First Nations to develop stronger, more effective, and more accountable on-reserve education systems.
  • In a dynamic economy, workers must be able to use their skills, wherever in Canada they choose to work. Provincial borders should not be employment barriers. Our Government will work with provinces and territories to improve credential recognition and enable the free movement of skilled workers.
  • Our Government will ensure that Canadians are aware of the opportunities offered by the skilled trades, and will assist apprentices with the cost of their training.
  • Our Government will complete reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to ensure that Canadians always have the first chance at available jobs.
  • And our Government will continue to create the conditions for new and better jobs for Canadians across all sectors of our economy.

Trade

From the days of the coureurs des bois and the Hudson’s Bay Company, Canada has been a trading nation. Today, with one in 5 Canadian jobs dependent on exports, our prosperity hinges on opening new markets for Canadian goods, services and investment. This is why our Government launched the most ambitious trade agenda in Canadian history. In less than seven years, Canada has concluded new free-trade agreements with nine countries and our Government is negotiating further agreements involving more than 60 others.

  • The Government will soon complete negotiations on a comprehensive economic and trade agreement with the European Union. This agreement has the potential to create 80,000 new Canadian jobs.
  • Our Government is also committed to expanding trade with emerging markets in Asia and the Americas through our engagement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and active negotiations with Japan, South Korea, and India.
  • To further promote the success of Canadian exporters, our Government will launch a comprehensive new plan to assist Canadian businesses as they expand abroad.
  • The United States remains Canada’s biggest and best customer. Our Government will continue implementing the Beyond the Border and Regulatory Cooperation Action Plans to speed the flow of people, goods and services between our two countries.
  • Here at home, our Government will continue to work to remove barriers to trade between provinces and territories that cost jobs, inconvenience Canadians, and defy common sense. For instance, our Government will work with British Columbia and Ontario, and other willing jurisdictions, to set up a cooperative regulatory system for securities and capital markets.
  • And our Government will amend the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act to allow Canadians to take beer and spirits across provincial boundaries for their own use.

Resource Development

Since Canada’s earliest days, our economy has been built on our abundant natural resources. Directly and indirectly, the natural resource sector employs 1.8 million Canadians, many in skilled, high-paying jobs. Resource development generates 30 billion dollars annually in revenue that supports health care, education and programs Canadians cherish. Canada’s energy reserves are vast—sufficient to fuel our growing economy and supply international customers for generations to come. However, for Canadians to benefit fully from our natural resources we must be able to sell them. A lack of key infrastructure threatens to strand these resources at a time when global demand for Canadian energy is soaring. We must seize this moment. The window for gaining access to new markets will not remain open indefinitely. Now more than ever, our future prosperity depends on responsible development of these resources. At the same time, our Government has taken action to ensure that Canada’s resources do not fall under foreign government control.

  • Our Government will continue to ensure that our natural resource sectors remain open to foreign investment when it is market-oriented and in the long-term interests of Canadians.
  • Canada’s natural wealth is our national inheritance and our Government will ensure that the jobs and opportunities it brings are available to all Canadians. In particular, Canada’s Aboriginal peoples must have every opportunity to benefit.

Our Government believes, and Canadians expect, that resource development must respect the environment. Our Government’s plan for responsible resource development includes measures to protect against spills and other risks to the environment and local communities. Our Government will:

  • Enshrine the polluter-pay system into law;
  • Set higher safety standards for companies operating offshore as well as those operating pipelines, and increase the required liability insurance;
  • Re-introduce the Safeguarding Canada’s Seas and Skies Act, to protect our oceans and coasts; and
  • Act on advice from the Expert Panel on Tanker Safety, to create a world-class tanker safety system in Canada.

Farms, Fisheries, Forestry

Canada was built on the work of farmers, fishermen, and foresters. They work hard to feed our families and sustain rural communities. Our Government will continue to protect and promote Canada’s traditional industries.

  • Our Government has given farmers marketing freedom and is helping them adapt and innovate. It will continue to develop new markets around the world for Canadian products, while supporting supply management.
  • Our Government has supported fishermen by ensuring proper management of fish stocks and by opening new markets worldwide. It will continue to be open to solutions, supported by fishermen, that strengthen the economic competitiveness of this traditional pillar of our coastal economy.
  • Forestry remains essential to Canada’s rural economy, supporting almost 200,000 jobs across the country. Our Government secured and extended the softwood lumber agreement with the United States. And our Government will continue to support innovation and pursue new export opportunities for Canadian companies.

Infrastructure

Infrastructure investment creates jobs, supports trade, drives productivity and contributes in a fundamental way to growth and long-term prosperity. For Canadians balancing the pressures of work and daily life, investment in our roads, bridges and transportation networks means less congestion, shorter commutes and more time with family. That’s why, in Economic Action Plan 2013, our Government launched the new Building Canada Plan, the largest long-term federal commitment to infrastructure in Canadian history.

  • Over the next decade, our Government will invest 70 billion dollars in federal, provincial, territorial and community infrastructure. Projects such as building subways in the Greater Toronto Area, replacing Montréal’s ChamplainBridge, building a new Windsor-Detroit crossing and constructing Vancouver’s Evergreen Line will create jobs across our country.

Shipbuilding and Manufacturing

  • Our Government will work in partnership with industry to ensure that all major military purchases create high-quality jobs for Canadian workers. Our Government’s National Shipbuilding Plan will create 15,000 well-paying, skilled jobs over 30 years for Canadians and produce much-needed new ships for the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard.
  • Canada’s automotive and aerospace industries are also key parts of our economy. That’s why our Government renewed the Automotive Innovation Fund and improved the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative. Both have a proven track record of generating results for Canadians—jobs, prosperity and increased foreign investment.
  • To foster Canadian productivity and global competitiveness, our Government provided 1.4 billion dollars in tax relief to manufacturing companies investing in modern machinery and equipment. And our new Advanced Manufacturing Fund will support new products and production methods.

Science and Technology

Our Government’s leadership in science and technology helps Canadian business remain competitive while creating high-paying jobs. Since 2006, our Government has invested more than 9 billion dollars to support science, technology and innovative companies operating at the outer limits of knowledge. Canada now leads G-7 countries in post-secondary research investment.

  • Transformation of the National Research Council, doubling the Industrial Research Assistance Program, and the new Venture Capital Action Plan are all helping to promote greater commercialization of research and development.
  • Building on this strong foundation, our Government will release an updated Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy.
  • Our Government will continue making targeted investments in science and innovation chains from laboratory to market in order to position Canada as a leader in the knowledge economy.
  • And our Government will continue to promote Canada as a world-class destination for international students.

Small Business and Tourism

Canada’s spectacular beauty attracts visitors from across the globe to every region of our country. These visitors create jobs and sustain local economies. Our Government will continue to work with industry partners to promote Canada as a top destination for tourism. Our Government has reduced the red tape burden on small and medium-sized businesses. There are now fewer regulations and the cost of red tape has been reduced by nearly 20 million dollars annually.

  • Our Government will introduce legislation to enshrine the One-for-One Rule in law: for every new regulation added, one must be removed.
  • The Canada Revenue Agency will cut additional red tape and help businesses navigate the tax system.
  • And, following our Government’s return to balanced budgets, it will look at ways to provide further tax relief to job-creating small businesses.

2. Supporting and Protecting Canadian Families

Keeping Taxes Low

Canadians work hard for their money. And we know families are better placed to make spending decisions than governments. That is why our Government has lowered taxes, year after year—for families, for businesses, for each and every Canadian. For example, our Government:

  • Cut the GST, from seven to six to five per cent;
  • Created Tax Free Savings Accounts, which now benefit more than eight million Canadians;
  • Established a 5,000-dollar tax credit for first-time home buyers;
  • Reduced the lowest personal income tax rate and increased the basic personal exemption;
  • Introduced income splitting for seniors;
  • Brought in arts and fitness tax credits for our children; and
  • Froze Employment Insurance premiums for the next three years, meaning that employees and employers will save 660 million dollars next year alone.

Overall, the federal tax burden is at its lowest level in half a century. As a result of our Government’s low-tax plan, the average Canadian family now pays 3,200 dollars less in taxes every year. Our Government has a proven record of cutting taxes for Canadian families. We have delivered on our promises. And, once the budget is balanced, our Government is committed to greater tax relief for Canadian families.

Defending Canadian Consumers

Canadian families work hard to make ends meet, and every dollar counts. While companies will look out for their bottom line, our Government is looking out for everyday Canadians. When Canadians make decisions about how to spend their money, they must be assured of a voice, a choice, and fair treatment. For example, although Canadians are among the most digitally connected in the world, we also pay some of the highest wireless rates in the developed world. As families know—especially families with teenagers—the monthly bills add up. Our Government has already taken action to achieve greater competition. Canadians know that competition is good for everyone. Competition lowers prices and keeps businesses from becoming complacent. As a result, wireless rates have fallen nearly 20 per cent since 2008. But there is much more work to do.

  • Our Government will take steps to reduce roaming costs on networks within Canada.
  • Our Government believes Canadian families should be able to choose the combination of television channels they want. It will require channels to be unbundled, while protecting Canadian jobs.
  • Our Government will continue enhancing high-speed broadband networks for rural Canadians.

And our Government will take additional action to protect Canadian consumers. Canadians are tired of hidden fees. They deserve to know the real cost of paying by debit or credit card. And they should not be charged more in Canada for identical goods that sell for less in the United States. Our Government will:

  • End “pay to pay” policies, so customers won’t pay extra to receive paper bills;
  • Expand no-cost basic banking services;
  • Work with the provinces and territories to crack down on predatory payday lenders;
  • Empower consumers by requiring disclosure of the cost of different payment methods; and
  • Take further action to end geographic price discrimination against Canadians.

Supporting Victims and Punishing Criminals

Our Government believes that the justice system exists to protect law-abiding citizens and our communities. For too long, the voices of victims have been silenced, while the system coddled criminals. Our Government has worked to re-establish Canada as a country where those who break the law are punished for their actions; where penalties match the severity of crimes committed; where the rights of victims come before the rights of criminals.

  • Our Government will introduce a Victims Bill of Rights to restore victims to their rightful place at the heart of our justice system.
  • Our Government will focus on protecting the most vulnerable of all victims, our children. Recent tragic deaths, including those of Amanda Todd, Rehtaeh Parsons, and Todd Loik, have shocked Canadians. Our Government will introduce legislation giving police and prosecutors new tools to effectively address cyberbullying that involves criminal invasion of privacy, intimidation and personal abuse. This legislation would create a new criminal offence prohibiting the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.
  • Canadians are rightfully alarmed when violent offenders found not criminally responsible for their actions are released into our communities. Our Government will re-introduce legislation to ensure that public safety comes first.
  • But we must do even more to protect our children. Child predators should never be let off with only a single sentence for multiple crimes against children. Canadians demand that those who prey on our children pay the full price for every devastated life. Our Government will end sentencing discounts for child sex offenders.
  • It is also unacceptable that dangerous and violent offenders are released into our communities before serving their full sentences. Our Government will end the practice of automatic early release for serious repeat offenders.
  • But for the worst of all criminals, even this is not enough. Canadians do not understand why the most dangerous criminals would ever be released from prison. For them, our Government will change the law so that a life sentence means a sentence for life.
  • Aboriginal women are disproportionately the victims of violent crime. Our Government will renew its efforts to address the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women.
  • Canadians also know that prostitution victimizes women and threatens the safety of our communities. Our Government will vigorously defend the constitutionality of Canada’s prostitution laws.
  • Finally, our Government recognizes the daily risks taken by police officers and their service animals. It will bring forward Quanto’s law in honour of them.

Safeguarding Families and Communities

Families are the cornerstone of our society. Families raise our children and build our communities. As our families succeed, Canada succeeds. Our Government understands the daily pressures ordinary Canadian families face. And it is working to strengthen families, not replace them. That’s why our Government took money from bureaucrats and lobbyists and gave it to the real experts on child care—mom and dad. Our Government’s Universal Child Care Benefit provides 1,200 dollars a year to parents to help with the costs of raising kids. Our Government will also support hard-working Canadian families in other ways.

  • Every day, parents make choices about what goes on the dinner table. Our Safe Food for Canadians Act was a significant milestone in strengthening Canada’s world-class food safety system. Our Government will work with the provinces and territories to further strengthen food inspection regimes.
  • Our Government will consult with Canadian parents to improve the way nutritional information is presented on food labels.
  • Our Government is also committed to ensuring that drug labels are written in plain language, and that the potential side effects of medication are accurately indicated. To help identify potentially dangerous drugs, and ensure the quick recall of unsafe drugs, it will introduce new patient safety legislation. This will include new powers to require reporting of adverse drug reactions.

Our Government will also:

  • Build on our caregiver tax credit by working with employers to better accommodate Canadians caring for older family members;
  • Help seniors quickly access information about programs and services they need and use in their communities;
  • Make adoption more affordable for Canadian families;
  • Renew investments in health research to tackle the growing onset of dementia, and related illnesses;
  • Prevent employers and insurance companies from discriminating against Canadians on the basis of genetic testing;
  • Collaborate with injury prevention organizations, to reduce the injury rate in Canada; and
  • Work with the provinces and territories and with the private and not-for-profit sectors to encourage young Canadians to be more physically active.

Canadian families expect safe and healthy communities in which to raise their children. They want to address poverty and other persistent social problems, access safe and reliable infrastructure, and enjoy a clean and healthy environment. Our Government will:

  • Re-introduce and pass the Respect for Communities Act to ensure that parents have a say before drug injection sites open in their communities;
  • Expand its National Anti-Drug Strategy to address the growing problem of prescription drug abuse;
  • Close loopholes that allow for the feeding of addiction under the guise of treatment;
  • Act on the opportunities presented by social finance and the successful National Call for Concepts for Social Finance;
  • Build on the successful Housing First approach and its renewed Homelessness Partnering Strategy to help house vulnerable Canadians;
  • Protect Canada’s rich natural heritage by unveiling a new National Conservation Plan to further increase protected areas, focusing on stronger marine and coastal conservation;
  • Complete, by 2015, its work to protect wilderness lands in Nááts’ihch’oh, Bathurst Island and the MealyMountains;
  • Work with communities, non-profit organizations, and businesses to create and protect more green space in our urban and suburban areas;
  • Take further action to improve air quality nationwide; and
  • Build on its record as the first government to achieve an absolute reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by working with provinces to reduce emissions from the oil and gas sectors while ensuring Canadian companies remain competitive.

Since before Confederation, Canada has relied on railways for the movement of goods and passengers. It is no different today. New economic opportunities still require rail to link Canadian goods to waiting markets.

  • Our Government has already amended the Railway Safety Act to further enhance the safety of rail transportation.
  • As efforts to clean up and rebuild Lac-Mégantic demonstrate, railway companies must be able to bear the cost of their actions. Our Government will require shippers and railways to carry additional insurance so they are held accountable.
  • And we will take targeted action to increase the safety of the transportation of dangerous goods.

The first responders and ordinary Canadians who came together to confront the recent disasters in Lac-Mégantic and Alberta showed courage under the most dire circumstances. The Government has always stood with communities in times of crisis and recovery.

  • Our Government will continue to support the citizens of Lac-Mégantic and affected communities in Alberta as they move forward.
  • Building community resilience can mitigate the worst impacts of natural disasters and other emergencies before they happen. Our Government will work with provinces and territories to develop a National Disaster Mitigation Program, focused on reducing the impact of natural disasters.

3. Putting Canada First

Supporting Our Armed Forces

Government has no higher obligation than the protection of national sovereignty and the security of citizens. And Canadians know that you cannot earn respect by projecting weakness. Serious countries have serious capabilities. Look at the paintings that adorn this room—scenes of the Great War. They remind us of this, and of the profound sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform. These heroes are the pride of our country and the backbone of our history. After a decade of darkness, our Government has been living up to our promise to give the Canadian military the tools it needs to get the job done. Soldier for soldier, sailor for sailor, airman for airman, the Canadian Armed Forces are once again the best in the world. No longer does Canada have to hitch a ride with our allies. Our serving men and women can now carry out their vital missions. The Royal Canadian Air Force is flying new heavy-lift C-17 and C-130J transport aircraft, and operating Chinook helicopters. New tanks, artillery and other equipment have proven their worth in combat. Canadian workers at Canadian shipyards will build new ships for the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard. And our Government will complete our plan to replace Canada’s fleet of fighter jets. Building on these successes, our Government will renew our Canada First Defence Strategy. Now and in the future, Canada’s Armed Forces will defend Canada and protect our borders; maintain sovereignty over our Northern lands and waters; fight alongside our allies to defend our interests; and respond to emergencies within Canada and around the world. To be effective, our military must have more teeth and less tail. Our Government will:

  • Put front-line capability before back-office bureaucracy;
  • Respond to emerging threats to our sovereignty and economy posed by terrorism and cyber-attacks, while ensuring Canadians’ fundamental privacy rights are protected;
  • Incorporate a strong role for our military reserves, who are an essential link between the Armed Forces and Canadian communities; and
  • Assist employers of reservists who are required to deploy on missions vital to the security of all Canadians.

As our Government takes these steps, it will always keep faith with those who have defended Canada with pride. Our veterans have stood up for us; we will stand by them. Our Government has made unprecedented investments to support our veterans. Our Government has:

  • Increased support through its enhanced Veterans Charter;
  • Ensured dignified funerals for our injured veterans;
  • Reduced red tape so veterans can access the benefits they need; and
  • Invested almost five billion additional dollars in benefits and programs.

Our Government has worked to help returning veterans re-establish themselves. We will:

  • Reach out to homeless veterans and help give them the support they need; and
  • Build on our successful “Helmets to Hardhats” program to place veterans in good jobs.

Canada’s Northern Sovereignty

We are a northern country. We are a northern people. Canada’s greatest dreams are to be found in our highest latitudes. They are the dreams of a North confident and prosperous, the True North, strong and free. Our Government is securing our Northern sovereignty; promoting prosperity for Northerners; protecting our Arctic environmental heritage; and giving the people of the North a greater say in their own affairs. Our Government has made great strides by:

  • Opening the Canadian Armed Forces Arctic Training Centre;
  • Expanding the Canadian Rangers, our eyes and ears in the North;
  • Creating the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency;
  • Mapping Canada’s Arctic seabed to assert our sovereignty;
  • Investing in health care, education, and affordable housing for Northerners; and
  • Concluding a historic Devolution Agreement with the Northwest Territories and negotiating one with Nunavut.

But the eyes of the world increasingly look enviously to our North. Our Government will not rest.

  • Our Government will fulfill Prime Minister Diefenbaker’s historic vision by completing the Dempster Highway to the Arctic Ocean, linking Canada from sea to sea to sea.
  • Our Government has established the Canadian High Arctic Research Station. This world-class science and technology research facility will open in time for the 150th anniversary of Confederation.
  • With the arrival of our Government’s new Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships, Canada’s first deep water Arctic port at Nanisivik will be operational.
  • Our Government recognizes that the future prosperity of the North requires responsible development of its abundant natural resources. Northerners must benefit from this treasure. Our Government will work alongside Inuit, First Nations, territorial governments and industry to ensure that Northerners are well trained to take their full place in this new economy.
  • Our Government will also continue to defend the seal hunt, an important source of food and income for coastal and Inuit communities.
  • The story of the North is the story of Canada. In order to tell that story for Canada’s 150th year, our Government will continue efforts to solve one of the most enduring mysteries of our past. We will work with renewed determination and an expanded team of partners to discover the fate of Sir John Franklin’s lost Arctic expedition.

Promoting Canadian Values

Canada stands for what is right and good in the world. This is the true character of Canadians—honourable in our dealings, faithful to our commitments, loyal to our friends. Confident partners, courageous warriors and compassionate neighbours. Canada does not go along to get along. Our Government defends Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, the lone outpost of freedom and democracy in a dangerous region. And our Government stands opposed to those regimes that threaten their neighbours, slaughter their citizens, and imperil freedom. These regimes must ultimately be judged not by their words, but by their actions. Canada seeks a world where freedom—including freedom of religion, the rule of law, democracy and human dignity are respected. Our Government will continue to promote these fundamental values around the world, including through the newly established Office of Religious Freedom. And Canadians know that freedom and prosperity march together.

  • Our Government will help the world’s neediest by partnering with the private sector to create economic growth in the developing world.
  • Tax dollars spent on foreign aid must achieve real results. Our Government’s international aid will continue to be focused, effective and accountable.

Canadians also know that free and healthy societies require the full participation of women. Canada has taken a leadership role in addressing the health challenges facing women, infants and children in the world’s poorest countries. These efforts are saving millions of lives.

  • In particular, Canada recognizes the courageous and inspiring example set by Malala Yousafzai in risking her life promoting education for young women. She faced down evil and oppression and now speaks boldly for those who are silenced. Recognizing her heroism, our Government will, on behalf of all Canadians, bestow honorary citizenship on this remarkable young woman.
  • Sadly, millions of women and girls continue to be brutalized by violence, including through the inhumane practice of early and forced marriage. This barbarism is unacceptable to Canadians. Our Government will take steps to ensure that it does not occur on our soil.

It is the reality of our country that Canadians of very different origins live and work side by side, together. New Canadians work hard to learn our languages, our values, and our traditions, and in turn, are welcomed as equal members of the Canadian family. Our Government inherited a broken immigration system, and has worked hard to fix it. Our Government has:

  • Cut the backlog of applications by almost half;
  • Eliminated the backlog for economic immigrants;
  • Cut the right-of-landing fee in half;
  • Lowered wait times for skilled workers coming to Canada;
  • Increased protection for genuine refugees;
  • Reduced the number of fraudulent asylum claimants and deported more than 100,000 illegal immigrants; and
  • Remained on track to meet our goal of reuniting families faster.

But there is still more our Government can and will do.

  • We know that a job is the best path to social integration. Our Government will introduce a new model to select immigrants based on the skills Canadian employers need.
  • Our Government will reform the Immigrant Investor Program so that these investors make a real contribution in exchange for the security and pathway to citizenship that Canada provides.

Canadians understand that citizenship should not be simply a passport of convenience. Citizenship is a pledge of mutual responsibility and a shared commitment to values rooted in our history.

  • Our Government will not hesitate to uphold the fundamental rights of all Canadians wherever they are threatened.
  • To strengthen and protect the value of Canadian citizenship, our Government will introduce the first comprehensive reforms to the Citizenship Act in more than a generation.

2017: Anniversary of Confederation

As we look confidently to the future, we draw great strength from our past. Beginning with our Aboriginal peoples, Canada’s story is one of risk, sacrifice, and rugged determination. From the founding of New France, to the fight for Canada in the War of 1812; from the visionary achievement of Confederation, to our victory at Vimy Ridge, Canadians have repeatedly triumphed over long odds to forge a great country, united and free. It is a story we recall with wonder and recount with pride. A story of how different provinces founded a federation in which our distinct strengths advance our unity. A federation in which Canada’s two national languages position us uniquely in the world; where francophones thrive and celebrate a unique culture, in solidarity with fellow Canadians. Our Government has recognized the Québécois as a nation within a united Canada. It will work with the Government of Québec to ensure our common prosperity. And our Government will continue to respect the division of jurisdiction at the heart of the Constitution adopted at Confederation. Canada’s Confederation is worth celebrating. As we approach our historic 150th anniversary in 2017, our Government will join with Canadians in honouring this momentous milestone by:

  • Marking the 150th anniversaries of the Charlottetown and Québec Conferences;
  • Celebrating the 200th birthdays of two of our greatest Fathers of Confederation, Sir George-Étienne Cartier and Sir John A. Macdonald;
  • Commemorating the centennial of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the Second World War, and the enormous sacrifices made by Canadians and our Allies in both;
  • Re-dedicating the National War Memorial to the memory of all men and women who fought for our country;
  • Building a Memorial to the Victims of Communism, to remember the millions who suffered under tyranny;
  • Marking the end of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan by honouring the service of our men and women in uniform, including those who made the ultimate sacrifice combating the spread of terrorism;
  • Honouring the proud history of our Canadian Armed Forces by restoring military traditions;
  • Strengthening the Cadet and Junior Ranger programs;
  • Establishing the CanadianMuseum of History to share the story of Canada with pride;
  • Supporting the Pan and Parapan American Games and the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015, showcasing Canadians’ proud, competitive and united spirit under the maple leaf; and
  • Working with Canadians to support community projects, local celebrations, and other initiatives to commemorate this historic occasion.

The coming anniversary of Confederation is also a time to mark the contribution of Canada’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, who have had a defining role in shaping our country.

  • Our Government will continue our dialogue on the treaty relationship and comprehensive land claims.
  • And our Government will continue to work in partnership with Aboriginal peoples to create healthy, prosperous, self-sufficient communities.

The road to 2017 is a fitting time to strengthen our institutions and democratic processes.

  • The Government continues to believe the status quo in the Senate of Canada is unacceptable. The Senate must be reformed or, as with its provincial counterparts, vanish. The Government will proceed upon receiving the advice of the Supreme Court.
  • And, the Government will propose changes to Canada’s elections laws to uphold the integrity of our voting system. Legislation will be introduced in time for implementation prior to the next federal election.

Conclusion

Honourable Members of the Senate and Members of the Commons, as the dawn of our Confederation approached in the 1860s, our founding Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald said of Canada’s future that he saw “a great nation—great in thought, great in action, great in hope, and great in position.” His vision has come to pass. Today, Canada is a model for the world. Admired for our freedom. Respected for our principles. Envied for our openness, compassion and peaceful pluralism. As we approach the 150th anniversary of our great land, we look to the future. A future we will face true to our character, the character of a determined and enterprising people: Canadians, whose shops and small businesses spur the growth of our towns and cities; who work factory shifts and drive taxicabs to help their families get ahead; who take the same pride in raising their children as they do in being citizens of the best country on earth. These are the quiet, unsung Canadians who are building our country. It is from them that we draw the inspiration to face an uncertain and unstable world. It is for them that we will seize the moment before us. Members of the House of Commons, you will be asked to appropriate the funds required to carry out the services and expenditures authorized by Parliament. Honourable Senators and Members of the House of Commons, you are the holders of a profound trust reposed in you by Canadians. May you be equal to that trust in all things and may Divine Providence guide you in your deliberations.

Political Musings August 5, 2013: PM Stephen Harper defends XL Keystone pipeline as job creator countering Obama’s statement

CANADIAN POLITICAL MUSINGS

POLITICAL MUSINGS

Harper defends XL Keystone pipeline as job creator countering Obama’s statement

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke to the press from Quebec City on August 2, 2013 about the safety and job creation the oil pipelines projects would create. Harper discussed his support for the Energy East project, an West-East…READ MORE