The best speeches from the campaign trail

Each party leader has picked their favourite speech. Read the full text here.

In 35 days of campaigning across the country, the leaders have had innumerable photo-ops, declared myriad promises, and, naturally, uttered countless speeches. You can be forgiven for losing track. We got curious whether each party leader has his or her own favourite speech—one memorable utterance that stood out above the rest. They got back to us with these five transcripts. Click on a leader’s name to view the speech they picked.

Jack Layton
Michael Ignatieff
Stephen Harper
Elizabeth May
Gilles Duceppe

Jack Layton, NDP

Montréal, Que.
23 April 2011

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Hello my fellow New Democrats! Thank you for this warm welcome. I am very happy to be here with so many friends and terrific candidates!

Something is happening in Québec right now, there is a wind of change. A wind that blows along the St-Lawrence River. From Côte-Nord to Montréal, where I was born, to Gaspésie, to Quebec City, to Trois-Rivières. A wind of renewal coming from as far as James Bay, Abitibi-Témiscamingue and Outaouais. And blowing through Hudson, the city where I was raised. Wind from every corner in Quebec, which will breathe new life into politics.

In this election, Canadians have said loud and clear. That too many families can’t make ends meet. That too many seniors are living in poverty. That they have had enough of the same old debates.They deserve better.That is why we should dare to bring about change.

Change that is now necessary because Ottawa is running in circles. Because for too long, we have replaced scandals with different scandals, scandals that Quebecers could not tolerate anymore. Because some want to benefit from divisive politics. Because issues that matter to most Quebecers are yet to be settled.

You have voted to bring our troops home, but the mission in Afghanistan has been extended. You have voted for a green economy, but still, your money is used to subsidize big polluters. You have rejected scandals that tarnished politics, but again this week, we see the same story. Different leaders, same old scandals. For all these reasons, you believe it is now time for change.

Quebecers are ready for this change. Canadians are ready for this change. My friends, I am ready to bring this change to Ottawa, so that Quebecers have a strong voice in cabinet. In every corner of the province, my Quebec team is ready for this challenge.

Old debates and negative politics that we have seen since the beginning of this campaign are exactly what New Democrats stay away from.

Some have claimed that I was too polite to be a politician, as if it was a weakness for a party leader to listen what you have to say. My friends, I cannot promise to be less of a good guy, you know where I stand and you know I will fight for the priorities you hold dear. To defend families and seniors. To bring our troops home. To stop subsidizing big polluters and instead invest in clean energy. To give a voice to progressive Quebecers in cabinet.

I am committed to do things differently in Ottawa. I am committed to get results in the first 100 days as your Prime Minister. Not in four years. Now. Because people need help now. That’s my commitment to you. My friends, I am ready to be your Prime Minister, and I fully understand what this means.

A Prime Minister’s job is to make sure the government works for those who have elected him, and not for big corporations. A Prime Minister’s job is to bring people together. Build bridges between urban and rural areas and bring closer the different point of views which exist in this country. A Prime Minister must ensure Parliament represents the values you cherish.

Values like: Tolerance, compassion, pride in our differences, respect for democracy, cooperation. Those values are shared by all Canadians. My friends, we will work together to bring those values back to Parliament. No matter which party you supported in the past, we can put the old debates aside and work together to achieve real change.

We can prove that the cynics are wrong. That it is possible for Québec to have a to have a solid representation in Ottawa, not in the Opposition, but within government. Others will tell you that you have no choice but to vote for them. But that is, once again, old politics. You deserve better. You deserve change. And for that, we need to do more than block the Conservatives. We need to replace them. And it is not the first time for Quebecers to bring about major changes in our society. This isn’t the first time you’ve seen this. It means something is broken and we need to fix it.

It starts with a vote – your vote. And so, I’m calling on you – on May 2nd – to mark your ballot for change. Together, we can do this. We can show that: Here, our priority is job creation, the environment and world peace. Here, we dare to use words like “change” “hope” and “progress”. Here, we dare to look beyond old politics and have the audacity to ask for something better. Here, we dare to look cynicism directly in the eye, and have faith that the best has yet to come. And especially because there is so much to do.

The time has come for someone to take on those responsibilities. We are ready to take on this challenge! It can’t be done without you. Let’s work together. Let’s roll up our sleeves and start the work right now. Thank you!

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Michael Ignatieff, Liberal party

Sudbury, Ont.
April 15, 2011

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[Note: Italicized portions are translated from French]

Well, why are we here? We got an election. Why are we having an election? We’re having an election because Mr. Harper wouldn’t tell Parliament the truth about the costs of his jets, his jails and his corporate tax cuts. And because he wouldn’t tell Parliament the truth, Parliament said, you’re in contempt of Parliament. Basic breaking of the rules of democracy, that’s why we’re having an election.

You have to remember that. He broke one of basic rules of Canadian democracy in that elected officials that you voted, elected to parliament need to know what the jails will cost. How much will the fighter planes cost? And what will the tax give-aways to big corporations cost? He doesn’t want to tell us the truth, whereas we’re in an election. An election is not just a democratic moment; it’s an election on democracy. Yes.

Can you give power to a prime minister who shut parliament down twice? Can you give power to a Prime Minister who lacks respect for the basic rules of our democracy? The answer is no, there you go.

So now we got that out of the way. That’s good. But I wanna talk about the positive, hopeful, optimistic vision that we’ve got. We can talk about him all night. It’s kinda fun but after you’ve done it for a while, you wanna stop talking about stuff that makes you depressed. You wanna talk about something that cheers you up. And I’ve got something to cheer you up here. Now where is it, I usually have it here. Here it is. Here’s something to cheer you up – this is the Liberal platform. You read this, it’ll definitely cheer you up. This has, at the centre of it, what we call the Family Pack of policies. The thing about the Family Pack is that it offers a very specific message of hope for Northern Ontario and I wanna spell that out, just for a minute. Then we’re gonna get to the really fun part, which is you get to ask me any question you want. And they haven’t been pre-screened, they haven’t been controlled and I have no idea what you’re going to ask me. And some of it may be difficult and that’s my job.

Yeah, and I’ll tell you – people sometimes say that politics is show-business for ugly people.

They do, they say — Well I may be ugly, but this isn’t show business. This is important. This isn’t show business. This is democracy. I have to be here, I have to be here. It’s my job. I have to give you honest answers to your questions. That’s how it works. That, in case Mr. Harper doesn’t understand, is what democracy is all about.

Now, let me just talk just a second about the Family Pack and its relevance to Northern Ontario. One of the things that Northern Ontario has got so triumphantly right – so right—is its commitment to post-secondary education. I was just at Collège Boréal. I’ve been to Laurentian, Cambrian, Nipissing. All these great institutions, right? That is the fundamental key to the economic future of Northern Ontario, because if you can give your children a world-class education in Northern Ontario, then they’re going to stay in Northern Ontario and create great jobs and opportunities for other people in Northern Ontario. And this is where the Family Pack comes in, because we have the learning passport. It’s as simple as this: you have kids who want to go to college or university, but you think it’s too expensive. I’m looking at you son, I’m looking at you, see—it’s all about you. It’s pretty embarrassing, I know. It’ll be alright. There’s some over there. Yeah. This, folks, is what politics is all about. It’s all about their future.

So if their Moms and Dads open a Registered Education Savings Plan, a Liberal government will put four thousand dollars in the account for every single person. Every single student, so that when they get accepted at college and university, there will be four thousand dollars to help them pay the costs of their education. This is the largest investment in post-secondary education, one time investment, in the history of the country. And it’s on top of everything else we’re doing. This is new money. This is not Harper money. This is not recycled money. This is the real stuff, the real money. And if you come from a low-income family, it bumps up to six thousand dollars. This is very important because it all is based on a simple idea that everyone in Northern Ontario understands. This country runs on equality. It runs on equality of opportunity.

Between Anglophones and Francophones, between Northern Ontario and Southern Ontario. Everybody here is equal and the key to equality of opportunity is education and post-secondary education.

This is a commitment to the future of Northern Ontario’s children that we’re making. It’s absolutely crucial. That’s the other thing we got here, is early learning and childcare for every Canadian family that needs it. We’ve gotta give all of our kids a great start. Two other things – I’m not gonna talk all night, I wanna give you a chance to ask a question – two other things relevant to Northern Ontario. People tell me it gets cold up here in the winter, am I right?

It gets a little frosty up here. One of the things that is a real concern for families is rising energy costs. We have got an environmental reno-tax credit that allows every Canadian family that gets an environmental audit to claim back on their taxes the cost of making your house energy-efficient. And this is a permanent program, it’ll go on forever. And its purpose is to make sure that you can save on your energy bills. We calculate you can save five hundreds dollar a year on your energy bills, and get a lot of money back on your taxes if you do this homo-reno. And it’s permanent, and the other great thing about it is this creates job. It creates green jobs throughout Northern Ontario because everybody is gonna wanna get in the business of replacing your furnace, replacing your air conditioning, replacing your windows and doors and making you snug and tight for the winter. And we think this will have a big and positive effect on the family income of people right across Northern Ontario. So that’s another thing in the Family Pack. I think it’s a good idea.

Just two more things and then I’ll stop. When I was on the Liberal Express, I did seventy thousand kilometres on the bus. Joe was with me, Carole was with me. One of the things I noticed within 15 minutes of getting out of the Sault, and about 25 minutes of getting out of Sudbury, we lost cell phone and internet.

Right? Now this is a big deal. We don’t wanna have a two-speed Canada. We wanna have a one-speed Canada. A high-speed Canada. And that means north and south, east and west, rural and urban. How are you supposed to have a great economy in Northern Ontario, how are you supposed to run a business, how are you supposed to run a farm, how are you supposed to run a mine, how are you supposed to create jobs unless you’ve got world-class internet access? We’re the only party saying we’ll put five hundred million to get 100% high-speed access right across the country.

And the final thing I wanna talk about, because one of the things in Northern Ontario is a deep, historical experience of some of the bad things when big foreign companies come in – and they come in – and they dig this stuff out of the ground and then they seem to ship it all south and the jobs go too. And one of the things, we’ve all learned some painful lessons from that, and one of the responsibilities of the federal government is the Canada Investment Act. Industry Canada has that responsibility to make sure that all that inward investment creates net-benefit to Canada. And we’re all a little older and wiser as a result of some of the experiences that Northern Ontario has been through. And I want to pledge to you that we need to revise and review that whole process. We need to make a few things very clear. We need to make a few things very clear.

It has to be clear to everyone. If you come here to invest in Northern Ontario and all of Canada, there are rules. We’re in Canada, and you have to follow the rules, which means: protecting the environment, and respect for workers. Yes, respecting workers. Respecting workers’ pensions. That’s right, respecting workers’ pensions.

We have to have an investment review process that is transparent, public and accountable. You come here, you gotta respect Canadian labour law, you gotta respect Canadian pension law, you gotta respect Canadian environmental law. And if you make a promise to a community, I don’t care whether it’s Sudbury or Nanticoke or anywhere. If you make a promise to a community, it’s got to be public and you got to be held accountable to keep your promises to Canadians. And if you’re coming in here, if you’re coming in here to extract our resources, we’ve got to have some refining done here, folks. We gotta have some jobs here. You can’t take the stuff in and then just ship it out. We’ve gotta create value-added jobs here in Ontario. This is how it has to work. Otherwise, I’m sorry we’re not gonna use your money.
This is one of the richest places on Earth, Northern Ontario. And it often has that feeling that it’s not getting the benefit from all the wealth under the ground. And this is the key to it. We have to have a federal government that says, let’s make sure inward investment into our economy benefits the people of Northern Ontario.

So, in conclusion, my vision of what a Liberal is, is simple. It is based on one word, which I have used already: the word equality. To me, it’s a precious word, it’s a word that is dear to me. Equality between Anglophones and Francophones. Equality between people. Equality of rights. Equality of responsibilities. All families have to assume their responsibilities. That’s it, but there is also equality of opportunity, it’s important. Equality of opportunity. I don’t want a Canada where all of the hopes are focused on Toronto. Or all of the hope has gone from the north to the south. Or, from the rural areas to the urban centres.

The vision that I have of the country, and I think it’s the vision that animates the heart of every Liberal and every Canadian, whatever your party, is a deep commitment to equality. We gotta remember these basic things about us. We’re in an election here. One of the wonderful things about an election, it reminds us of that basic quality. I get one vote. Mr. Harper gets one vote. You get one vote. You get one vote. Nobody in this room is better than anybody else. Nobody in this room is more important than anyone else. We gotta remember that. And then everything we do in politics is to make and reinforce that basic equality – quality of rights, equality of responsibility, equality of opportunity. And most important of all, equality of hope. Equality of hope so that when you get up, when you’re born in Northern Ontario, you’ve got as much chance at the dream as any other place in the country. That’s what we’re talking about. That’s what we’re talking about. Now my wife is here and she’s quality control.

She makes sure I don’t get carried away. She makes sure I remember the most important part of this evening is the questions. And we’re gonna go to questions right now. And the thing about a question, I’d just like to make it clear – not a lot of people know this – a question is a short, interrogative statement that is followed by a question mark. Yeah, I mean, that’s what it is. And everybody gets one per-customer. And those people kinda piggy-backing two or three in, you know – no, just one per-customer and that would be great. And I’ll try to be short so we get as many as possible.

And, of course, we’ll be answering questions in the two official languages of our country. Bravo to Franco-Ontarians. Bravo to Anglophones. We’ll speak the two languages, right?

OK, where do we start?

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Stephen Harper, Conservative party

Mississauga, Ont.
April 8, 2011

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Elections are about choices.

A choice such as you face when you come to a fork in the road, but at least with a fork in the road, either choice still leads forward. This election isn’t like that. This election is like deciding whether to go forward, or to make a U-turn. Canadians can choose to make a u-turn, to go back to the 1970s and the decades that followed, when Canada struggled with high government spending, high taxes and not enough jobs. A government involving Mr. Ignatieff’s Liberals, the NDP, and the Bloc Québécois would take Canada back to the 1970s, making us all fall to the back of the pack.

Canadians have another option, and can instead choose to go forward. We can choose the Conservative low-tax plan for jobs and economic growth, so that Canada can emerge from the global recession faster and stronger than our peers among the leading industrialized countries. The way forward is to choose a strong, stable, national, majority, Conservative Government.

Our Conservative platform is realistic and accurately-costed, and it shows our plans right through a four-year term.Our plan is based on policies that have proven their worth and that are already working for Canadian families. It builds on the same low-tax, job-focussed orientation as Canada’s Economic Action Plan — a plan that is bringing Canada through the worst worldwide recession in 80 years at the head of the global class.

Our platform contains the same low-tax, job-focussed policies that were at the core of the federal Budget — the Next Phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan — a plan that we will implement right away if we have the honour of being re-elected.Our plan contains real, affordable benefits and tax reductions for Canadian families. In fact, being affordable and not requiring tax increases are two of the most important distinctions between our platform and the reckless election promises being made by Mr. Ignatieff’s Liberals, the NDP, and the Bloc Québécois.

The first main theme of our platform is the economy.

Our Government has, from the beginning, pursued a low-tax plan for jobs and growth.This is the best way to encourage economic activity, to increase revenues for the government, and to provide affordable choices for Canadians. Our plan is based on training, trade, and low taxes. On training, we have important measures for older workers who need new skills, for students, and for immigrants who need to get foreign credentials recognized in Canada. No other party can match our record or our future plans for improved trade and access to export markets, or for keeping taxes down.

This will not change, because Conservatives understand that you cannot tax your way to prosperity and you cannot create jobs by raising taxes.

Our second theme, consistent through our time in office, is that Conservatives measure success by whether we construct a better future for our children and our grandchildren. We are proud to say that we have already made significant progress for families, and that we have done so through a low-tax approach. We have promoted choice in childcare and brought in the $1,200 per year child benefit, measures that have helped millions of people with the cost of raising their families.

In our platform, “Here for Canada,” we have laid out our vision for the next stage of a low-tax future for Canadian families because we are here for Canadian families.

Our third theme is responsible finance. Before the global recession we were paying down debt. With the global economic collapse, we joined with the other nations of the world with a coordinated plan of stimulus spending — our Economic Action Plan. That plan was one of the fastest and most successful plan in the world. We kept our deficit and debt levels well below most of our peer countries — in most cases far below.

Canadians understand that these were exceptional circumstances just as Canadians are clear that they do not want to go back to the days of permanent deficits. And we will not. Our deficit already fell by one quarter last year and it will fall by nearly another quarter this year. In our budget released before the campaign, we announced that we will achieve balance budgets by 2015, and we also discussed reviews to identify and eliminate government fat so that we can eliminate the deficit in 2014, a full year ahead of schedule.

Our fourth theme is also a longstanding Conservative priority — safer streets and neighbourhoods. Canadians believe that those who work hard, pay their taxes, and play by the rules should be rewarded. They believe that government money should not be stolen or misused. And they believe that the rights of victims should count more than the rights of criminals.

Canadians want to walk down the street without looking over their shoulders. They want their children protected from predators, and while they support the rehabilitation of offenders, they believe that the punishment should fit the crime.

Canadians know that the combination of Mr. Ignatieff’s Liberals, the NDP, and the Bloc Québécois has opposed us every step of the way.That is why our platform lays out a plan to bundle our outstanding criminal justice bills into comprehensive legislation and pass that legislation within the next Parliament’s first 100 days.

Fifth and finally, our Conservative Government will continue to stand on guard for Canada.We will continue to give our brave men and women in uniform the equipment they need and the respect they so richly deserve! We will defend our values and interests everywhere in the world, including in our great arctic frontier.

Five themes. Five sets of policies. Five ways forward for our country. Each one delivering real, tangible low-tax benefits to Canadians.

Our platform, “Here for Canada”, is a substantial document. It talks about the low-tax plan we have delivered, the low-tax plan we are delivering, and the low-tax plan we intend to deliver.It has dozens of pages of very specific and detailed pledges.

I urge all Canadians to take a close look at it, to look at it because this is our map for the road ahead, not a scrapbook of the journey we have taken.

Our opponents talk, sometimes openly, sometimes not so openly, about the taxes they will raise.But Canadians do not want to go back to the days of higher spending, higher taxes, double-digit unemployment, double-digit mortgages. Let us not go back to the days when federal policies divided Canadians against themselves, East against West, employer against employee, citizens against the military who serve them.

And let us especially not do it, at a time when the Bloc Québécois, a party that does not have the interests of Canada at heart, will be looking to exploit any incoherence or instability for its own purposes.

That must not be Canada’s future. We cannot go backwards in disunity, rather, we must go forward together!

As Conservatives, we do not run just to be the government. We are here for Canada to strengthen our country, a great country, and make it as strong and as free as it can be. A Canada proud of its past, standing tall in the world and confident of its future!

If that is your ambition for your country, you will choose a strong, stable, national, Conservative majority Government. And on May 2, I urge you for Canada’s sake, to do so!

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Elizabeth May, Green party

Victoria, B.C.
April 11, 2011

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I’m so grateful for so many of you rallying with us tonight. This is the first of our pro-democracy rallies across Canada and in this room it’s actually hard to try to do a head count but I’m watching more and more of you stream in and pack this hall and this is fantastic. Thank you for coming out tonight.

What is at stake here? What is at stake here is not about whether it’s good for the Green Party or bad for the Green Party to be excluded from the national televised leaders’ debate. What’s at stake here is what it means to Canadian citizens if a party supported by 1 in 10, and that EKOS poll today leaves us at – pretty much where we have been for the last year or so at around 10%. We’re still holding on to over 9% of the popular vote despite the fact that not only were we not invited to the leaders’ debates. In a lot of the national media we seem to have been not invited to the election.

I always watch with some interest where are the leaders today? That’s always an interesting thing, and I find that I seem not to exist. The entire national media contingent that follows Stephen Harper was — imagine this — five blocks from the Saanich-Gulf Islands Green Party office. They were assembled there in the magical mystery tour bubble contingent that is allowed to travel with Stephen Harper but not talk to him. They assembled at the Travel Lodge hotel in Sidney, British Columbia — as I mentioned, five blocks from my office — for the second time in a month that Stephen Harper has visited Saanich-Gulf Islands, to make another announcement. They didn’t know where they were going, as it was an undisclosed location, bundled up and delivered to a pre-prepared, pre-screened, and I’m sure the childrens’ Facebook pages had been checked. Then he announced something that’s been in our platform for four.. five…six years now? And he didn’t even actually announce that he would do it, he’d only do it maybe, promising if they do eliminate the deficit: income splitting.

So there we are. And I was astonished that the media coverage failed to mention, “Isn’t it interesting that the Prime Minister of Canada has twice in a month visited this Southern Vancouver riding… what could be the reason?”

The national media coverage failed to mention he was there in late February, and that he was there in late March. What would compel Stephen Harper to make two visits in a month to a riding held by one of his cabinet ministers?

I think it’s because they’re worried. I know it’s because they’re worried.

So, I listened with some interest to the radio coverage after Stephen Harper’s completely insulated, iron-clad contingent left our community. I listened when they said “and the opposition Leaders’ reaction to his visit was…” And then we heard from the people covering the liberal campaign, the people covering the NDP campaign, the people covering the Bloc campaign. But it’s where I’m running, and they didn’t mention that.

I’m not just looking at this in the sense that yes, it is egregious that they have decided to exclude the Greens. Who is the “they”? This is one of the things that is so hard: a faceless group of media executives made this decision behind closed doors.

Now, I’m not against the media. There’s a lot of you in the room. I love you dearly.

But what issues will never come up in the leader’s debate if we don’t get in? Here’s one of them. Our section on true democracy was prepared long ago, as we were not anticipating being excluded from the debates. We thought after 2008 the issue was settled and we would be included. But here’s one of the issues we probably won’t hear about from other politicians because although they may recognize it’s a problem, but they may think it’s too hot to handle.

What are we going to do about the increasing corporate control in Canadian journalism? We are committed to expanding the Broadcasting Act and the Competition Act so it can actually look at the problem that the first Canadian Royal Commission looked at back in the time of Keith Davy and the second Canadian Royal Commission looked at in 1981 under Tom Kent, where they found that the extent of media concentration of ownership was dangerous and unhealthy in a democracy. And that was before Conrad Black bought everything up.

This is a serious problem. If we want a healthy democracy we need a free, independent media that is unafraid of the politicians who run it.

Now, the other issues. I haven’t heard anything from the other parties on the situation in Afghanistan; we’re calling for a peaceful solution and yes, folks, we think we have a role in Afghanistan beyond this year, but only within UN peacekeeping and with a significant effort to clean up corruption in the Karzai government and to find ways to help the people of Afghanistan get out of poverty. That’s a goal: protect women’s rights and assist the people of Afghanistan get out of poverty

Beyond that, poverty is a significant issue and I’m not hearing about global poverty in this campaign. I haven’t heard one party mention the Millennium Development Goals. I haven’t heard one party say that we must restore Canadian funding to Planned Parenthood, to Match, and to Kairos — now!

Another issue I don’t think we’ll hear mentioned in the leaders’ debates if they keep me out is that what’s happening to Canadian democracy represents a dangerous departure from our traditions. There is no such creature in the Canadian constitution as the PMO. The Prime Minister’s Office under Lester B. Pearson was a handful of stenographers. It’s now hundreds and hundreds of people who spend every waking hour living on our tax dollars, deciding how to continue to advance the interests of the Conservative party over the interests of the Canadian people.

We have to look at the health of our democracy and we have to be a pro-democracy movement that liberates each and every one of the 308 Members of Parliament no matter what party they belong to. If they have no role, if they have no more role than to stand up and cheer when told, stand up and jeer when told, and sit down and shut up when told, then that’s not democracy, that’s an elected dictatorship. We have to rescue democracy from political parties.

It’s true. Petra Kelly, the founder of the German Greens, used to say the Green Party is the anti-party party. And I embrace that fully, because contamination and disease is running rampant through the House Of Commons, through our Parliament, through our government. It’s like the tentacles of partisan illness that seeks out and destroys every good idea, that wants to create division and dissention instead of trying to find common ground and cooperation, that looks at every public policy question and doesn’t think, “what’s the best thing we can do for the common good?”. That’s what parliamentarians are for.

Instead, they’re directed by the spin doctors and the somewhat sociopathic elite in every political party that run every campaign. They are obsessed with strategy, obsessed with winning, and not knowing what they’re winning it for, except more power for their own political elites.

Once you get through an election, the spin doctors should go home. Once you get through an election, people in the House of Commons should be capable of working together and saying, “Ok, we’ve got some issues here. We don’t all agree, but it’s a minority Parliament. Let’s aspire to be the best minority Parliament Canada’s ever seen.” And I think we all know the best minority government Canada’s ever seen was under Lester B. Pearson’s government with the cooperation of David Lewis that gave us our healthcare system, gave us our employment insurance, gave us our Canada Pension Plan, and invested in the future of the country.

So in our platform, we’re calling for a national program to engage Canadians, whether it’s a Royal Commission, a Commission of Inquiry, or a national conversation to address the democracy deficit because as GPO leader Mike Schreiner just said, if we don’t fix what’s growing like a cancer in Canadian democracy, the toxicity and the growth of constant partisanship, a non-stop election campaign — then even where consensus is sitting right in front of you and there’s a possibility of getting people to agree, it’s smashed to the floor lest it might become an obstacle in attacking the other person when the next election campaign rolls around.

I can’t stand it anymore, Canadians are sick of it, and when we have Green voices in the House of Commons, we will stop that kind for politics.

What other issues? Can you imagine in the national leaders’ debates that anyone other than me is going to bring up the need for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into what happened in the streets of Toronto during the G20?

Can you imagine that anyone in the national leaders’ debate is going to bring up the erosion of women’s rights in this country over the last five years?

How is it that it goes unnoticed that the Harper government has removed from the mandate of Status of Women Canada the goal of achieving equality for women?

How can it be that nobody notices that when the 2009 budget was passed, a completely non-budgetary matter was stuffed in so no one could vote against it without causing an election — removing the right of women in the civil service to pay equity?

And how can it be that we would adopt the policies of George W. Bush to say that when we contribute to maternal health around the world, we won’t fund programs that give women in developing countries the right to legal and safe abortions.

It’s no wonder we lost our seat on the Security Council. How can we be the only country on Earth that allowed one of our own citizens to rot in Guantanamo Bay and be subjected to torture when he was a child soldier? How can we allow this?

How can we be the only country — the only country on Earth out of a hundred and seventy countries that ratified the Kyoto Protocol — that decided to walk into the meetings and say a legally binding convention means nothing to us? We are disowning it, we’re disavowing it, and we will do nothing about it.

Canada once showed global leadership. Canada was and could be again and will be again, because by god Stephen Harper hasn’t yet changed our country although he’s dismantling our institutions. We are still the same country that values cooperation over division.

We are still the same country that reaches out to help each other in times of trouble. We are not a country where we are defined in our identity by “What’s in it for me?” We ask, “What’s in it for us?”

How do we together ensure what’s in it for my grandchildren? And these issues and these questions will never come up when four men gather again at podiums to perform the traditional, predictable ritual of partisan jab and pre-rehearsed efforts at the zinger line.

They don’t think on their feet. They could, but their handlers won’t let them. So we are going to see a very sad spectacle again.

And I just want to thank all those Canadians who have come to say and who have come to our aid to say it’s wrong not to include the Greens in the debate.
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Gilles Duceppe, Bloc Québécois

Saint-Lambert, Que.
April 25, 2011

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Merci à vous tous d’être là et merci à M. Parizeau qui, au cours de toutes ces années, n’a jamais ménagé son appui au Bloc Québécois. Cet homme d’État qui a consacré sa vie au Québec a toujours fait valoir l’importance pour notre nation de défendre ses intérêts sur toutes les tribunes.

M. Parizeau a compris au détour des années 1960 que le seul avenir vraiment porteur pour les Québécois, c’était la liberté politique. Tout au long de sa vie, ce grand Québécois a travaillé à l’avancement du Québec. Il a toujours défendu avec passion les intérêts du Québec, les intérêts des Québécois et des Québécoises.

Ayant compris comme des millions d’entre nous que la meilleure façon d’aller au bout de nous-mêmes, de ce que nous sommes, c’est de nous donner un pays, il a travaillé sans relâche, jusqu’à aujourd’hui, pour le faire advenir, ce pays. Et on vous en remercie, M. Parizeau.

Défendre les intérêts du Québec à Ottawa et travailler à la réalisation d’un pays bien à nous, c’est justement la mission que s’est donnée le Bloc Québécois à sa fondation. Défendre les intérêts du Québec et faire la souveraineté : c’est ça le Bloc Québécois. C’était vrai en 1990 et c’est encore vrai aujourd’hui. Le Bloc existe parce que la nation québécoise existe. Les Québécois forment une nation, ni meilleure, ni pire que les autres. Une nation différente, tout simplement. Nous avons toutes les raisons d’en être fiers, d’être fiers de ce que nous sommes.

Et ces élections fédérales, comme toutes les autres depuis que le Bloc existe, ce ne sont pas des élections entre la gauche ou la droite. Le choix des Québécois se fait entre des partis canadiens et un parti, le Bloc, qui considère que le Québec a le droit d’être lui-même, de défendre ses propres intérêts, ses propres valeurs, ses façons de faire à lui. Le choix entre des partis pour qui c’est le Canada d’abord et un parti pour qui c’est le Québec seulement. Voilà le choix fondamental pour le Québec. Je vous donne un exemple: l’annonce de Stephen Harper de financer un projet hydroélectrique à Terre-Neuve. L’ADQ, un parti de droite, est contre. Québec solidaire, un parti de gauche, est contre lui aussi. Gérard Deltell et Amir Khadir, comme Jean Charest et Pauline Marois, sont contre ce projet. Au Québec, nous sommes unis là-dessus.

Au niveau fédéral, Michael Ignatieff a appuyé Stephen Harper. Et Jack Layton, qui dirige un parti de gauche, a appuyé Stephen Harper, qui est carrément à droite. Les trois jouent dans la même équipe, sur le même trio, pour le Canada. Jack Layton à l’aile gauche, Michael Ignatieff au centre et Stephen Harper à droite. On est en désavantage numérique depuis des siècles. Il est temps de jouer à force égale, de nation à nation.

Cette question est emblématique de l’enjeu central de ces élections pour le Québec. Ici au Québec, il y a deux visions de l’avenir. Il y a la vision fédéraliste et la vision souverainiste. Pour les candidats fédéralistes des partis canadiens, tous les compromis, tous les accommodements sont acceptables. Ce fut le cas pour cette affaire de Terre-Neuve. Tous les candidats québécois du NPD, des libéraux et des conservateurs ont été obligés de cautionner la position canadienne de leur parti au détriment du Québec. C’est le prix à payer pour être un candidat néo-démocrate, libéral ou conservateur au Québec : il faut accepter de renoncer à être soi-même. Ce n’est pas le cas pour les députés du Bloc Québécois. Nous, c’est la fierté d’être Québécois qui nous guide, la fierté.

À chaque fois que les intérêts des Québécois sont ainsi mis de côté, les partis canadiens s’empressent de dire que la Constitution, ça n’intéresse pas les Québécois. Ils savent bien que la question n’est pas là, que ce n’est pas le texte juridique qui touche les Québécois, mais les conséquences pour notre peuple d’être pris dans ce pays qui ne nous reconnaît pas. Et cette question, elle est très concrète et elle touche les Québécois de très près.

Combien de Québécois, par exemple, ont été choqués de l’absence du français aux Olympiques de Vancouver? Nous étions des millions. Quand les sites Internet des fédérations sportives étaient unilingues, c’est évidemment le Bloc Québécois qui s’est battu pour changer ça. Pas les autres partis.

Il y a des centaines de milliers de Québécois qui ne sont pas protégés par la loi 101 au travail parce que les partis canadiens refusent d’adopter un simple amendement législatif. Quand la Constitution canadienne imposée au Québec par le Parti libéral, le NPD et les conservateurs sert à affaiblir la loi 101, par exemple avec les écoles passerelles, ça touche le Québec très concrètement.

Nous sommes fiers de nous battre pour le français et pour la culture québécoise tous les jours à Ottawa. Et nous serons tellement fiers quand nous aurons bâti notre pays, un pays francophone en Amérique. Et ça, il n’y que le Bloc Québécois qui y travaille, mes amis.

Combien de Québécoises et de Québécois rêvent d’un pays vert, d’un pays capable de marier l’environnement et l’économie? Nous sommes des millions à le souhaiter. Ce n’est pas un hasard si le Bloc Québécois est le chef de file à Ottawa sur la question environnementale. L’ancien ministre libéral de l’Environnement, David Anderson, a déclaré que j’étais, parmi tous les chefs de parti, celui qui avait été le plus constant dans la lutte contre les changements climatiques. La chef du Parti vert a déclaré que Bernard Bigras était le meilleur porte-parole pour l’environnement parmi les 308 députés de la Chambre des communes. Hubert Reeves a dit que le Bloc Québécois est le parti de l’environnement. Bernard et moi n’avons d’autre mérite que d’être Québécois, que d’avoir la liberté d’être pleinement québécois, parce que nous sommes au Bloc Québécois. Parce que pour le Québec, la lutte contre les changements climatiques, c’est aussi un gage de prospérité.

Pour tous les partis canadiens, les sables bitumineux, c’est un élément fondamental de l’économie canadienne. Pour Stephen Harper, c’est clair. Pour Michael Ignatieff, les sables bitumineux sont tellement importants qu’il a déclaré que c’était une affaire d’unité canadienne. Pour Jack Layton, une bourse du carbone servira à financer les compagnies pétrolières pour qu’elles adoptent des pratiques plus propres. C’est la politique du pollueur-payé partagée par les trois. Ce sont ces formes d’énergie bien présentes au Canada, le nucléaire, le charbon, le pétrole bitumineux, qui définissent les grandes politiques énergétiques et économiques du Canada.

Au Bloc, nous sommes libres de ces intérêts économiques qui n’ont rien à voir avec le Québec. Dans le pays du Québec, la lutte contre les changements climatiques ira de pair avec nos intérêts économiques. Depuis des années, nous avons honte du Canada sur la scène internationale en matière d’environnement. Quand nous aurons notre pays, nous serons fiers des positions que nous défendrons dans le monde en matière d’environnement. Nous serons fiers de notre pays!

Chaque nation a ses propres façons de faire et prend des décisions économiques et sociales qui lui correspondent. Tous les jours au Québec, des milliers de pères et de mères de jeunes familles québécoises se réjouissent de bénéficier de congés parentaux qui leur permettent de s’occuper de leurs touts petits. Tous les jours, des milliers de femmes vont travailler, gagnent leur vie parce qu’elles peuvent se le permettre avec les garderies à sept dollars. J’ai des petits-enfants et je regarde ça avec beaucoup de fierté. La fierté de voir qu’au Québec, on fait ce qu’il faut pour aider les parents de jeunes enfants. J’éprouve aussi une grande fierté parce que je me suis battu avec toute notre équipe pendant dix ans pour que le Québec puisse avoir son programme de congés parentaux. On l’oublie, mais le Québec et le Bloc à Ottawa, on s’est battus pendant dix longues années pour offrir ça aux familles. Aucun parti canadien n’a posé le moindre geste pour ça. Juste le Bloc.

Aujourd’hui, on voit les partis canadiens qui ont des programmes conçus spécifiquement pour le Canada et qui n’ont rien à voir avec le Québec. Ils nous proposent des programmes mur à mur pour les garderies, l’éducation, la santé. Mais nous sommes déjà rendus beaucoup plus loin et cela n’annonce que des chicanes stériles.

Dans le pays du Québec, mes amis, nous n’aurions pas attendu dix ans pour créer notre programme de congés parentaux. Dans le pays du Québec, nous ne serons pas obligés de laisser 250 millions sur la table parce que la fiscalité canadienne en matière de garde d’enfant est conçue sans égard à notre réalité. C’est ça, le vrai sens de ces élections, ça peut se résumer en un seul mot : liberté. La liberté d’être nous-mêmes ou pas. Liberté d’être ou ne pas être, voilà la question!

Une nation, c’est aussi une communauté économique et financière. C’est très concret, ça. Ici à Montréal, des milliers de personnes et leurs familles vivent grâce au travail qu’ils ont dans l’économie financière. C’est leur pain et leur beurre. Dans toutes les régions du Québec, les entreprises font affaire avec des autorités financières qui comprennent le français, qui comprennent la réalité québécoise. À Ottawa, les partis canadiens veulent une commission pancanadienne des valeurs mobilières établie à Toronto. Tout le Québec des affaires se bat contre ça. Ce n’est pas une question gauche-droite, rouge ou bleu, c’est une question de maîtrise de notre avenir économique.

M. Parizeau a travaillé à s’arracher le cœur pour que les Québécois redeviennent maîtres de leurs propres finances et, à Ottawa, on voudrait maintenant vider le Québec de son secteur financier. Il n’y a que le Bloc qui se bat contre ça à Ottawa. Et dans le pays du Québec, mes amis, personne n’aura le pouvoir de nous arracher nos pouvoirs et de défaire ce que nous avons construit en trois décennies.

La négation de notre nation a des conséquences très concrètes. Dans les sociétés où règne la violence, tout le monde s’inquiète terriblement tous les jours. Les parents pour leurs enfants. Les enfants pour leurs parents âgés. Aucune société n’est parfaite, ni la nôtre, ni aucune autre. Mais nous avons quand même de quoi être fiers de nous. Année après année, le Québec peut se targuer d’être l’un des endroits où il y a le moins de violence en Amérique du Nord. Ce n’est pas un mince accomplissement. Nous avons réussi à faire ça par nous-mêmes, en développant des façons de faire qui sont dures envers les criminels endurcis, le crime organisé, les motards. Et en faisant tout en notre possible pour sauver nos jeunes de la délinquance. Nous sommes loin d’être parfaits et il faut travailler sans relâche pour améliorer les choses.

Malheureusement, nous devons constamment nous battre contre une tendance lourde au Canada qui consiste à construire des prisons et y mettre les jeunes délinquants. Il y a bien sûr les conservateurs qui sont guidés par une idéologie importée du sud et qui a fait la preuve de sa faillite : toujours plus de prisons et d’armes en circulation. Mais il y a autre chose de plus profond qui traverse chacun des partis canadiens.

La première tentative de durcir la loi sur les jeunes contrevenants a été celle d’un gouvernement libéral. Et moi j’ai assisté aux débats en Chambre et dans les comités. J’ai entendu les néo-démocrates appuyer le durcissement de loi des libéraux sur les jeunes contrevenants. C’est comme ça et nous n’avons pas à juger de la politique que les Canadiens jugent la meilleure pour eux. Mais nous devons regarder la réalité en face et constater que les trois partis fédéralistes veulent imposer leur vision canadienne des choses au Québec. Et nous avons non seulement le droit, mais aussi le devoir de nous battre pour ce que nous croyons être la meilleure politique pour le Québec.

Au Bloc Québécois, nous avons proposé de nombreux amendements pour soustraire le Québec de cette politique qui ne nous convient pas. Nous avions toute l’Assemblée nationale derrière nous, de gauche à droite. Il n’y a que le Bloc qui s’est battu et qui se bat pour le Québec.

Dans le pays du Québec, mes amis, nous n’aurions même pas eu à nous battre. Quand nous aurons notre pays, nous pourrons aller au bout de nous-mêmes et construire sans entrave la société la plus sécuritaire d’Amérique.

Je pourrais vous parler pendant des heures de ce que nous avons accompli à Ottawa. La bataille pour le déséquilibre fiscal qui nous a permis d’aller chercher des milliards pour le Québec, des milliards qui servent à bonifier nos services de santé et d’éducation.

Je pourrais vous parler des gains que nous avons été cherchés pour les régions, pour les travailleurs saisonniers, pour les personnes âgées, pour les agriculteurs, pour les entreprises du Québec.

Je pourrais vous parler de la culture québécoise et de tout ce que nous avons fait et tout ce que nous ferons dans l’avenir pour protéger notre culture, notre langue, notre identité.

Je suis très fier du Bloc Québécois, de notre équipe, de ce que nous faisons tous les jours pour défendre nos intérêts et nos valeurs. Je suis très fier de nous, très fier de vous, je suis très fier de ce que nous sommes.

Je veux aussi vous parler de ce que nous avons accompli pour le projet souverainiste. Nous sommes au terme d’une longue traversée du désert. Depuis 1995, nous avons beaucoup avancé. Pendant toutes ces années où on ne pouvait envisager sérieusement la réalisation de la souveraineté, nous n’avons jamais baissé les bras. Le Bloc Québécois a offert une contribution très importante au mouvement souverainiste au plan des idées. La souveraineté est un projet à la pointe de la modernité. M. Parizeau a d’ailleurs salué à plusieurs reprises l’importance de notre travail pour la souveraineté. Ce travail important est à la veille de porter ses fruits. Le Parti Québécois est à la porte du pouvoir à Québec.

Aucun des partis fédéralistes ne va appuyer le Québec. Nous savons que les partis canadiens, quand ils doivent choisir entre le Québec et le Canada, vont toujours choisir le Canada. Quand on leur demande quelle est leur capitale, ils répondent Ottawa. Nous, on répond Québec. Quand on leur demande quelle est leur métropole, ils répondent Toronto. Nous répondons Montréal. Et quand on leur demande quel est leur pays, ils répondent le Canada. Nous, notre vrai pays, celui qu’on a dans le cœur, c’est le pays du Québec !

Nous avons beaucoup avancé, mais il reste une étape à franchir. Nous nous approchons du moment où le Parti Québécois pourra former le prochain gouvernement. Pauline Marois fait un travail exceptionnel et elle pourrait devenir la première femme de l’histoire du Québec à occuper la fonction de premier ministre. Nous formons un duo, elle et moi. Le Bloc et le Parti Québécois forment une équipe.

Tous les partis canadiens vont travailler contre l’élection du Parti Québécois. Tous les partis canadiens vont toujours être dans le camp du NON. Le Bloc Québécois, lui, sera toujours être dans le camp du OUI. Nous avançons et ce n’est pas le temps de nous détourner de notre but.

Être nous-mêmes. C’est de cette façon que nous pourrons empêcher une majorité conservatrice. Et protéger l’avenir. Avec un Bloc fort à Ottawa. Le Parti Québécois au pouvoir à Québec. Tout redevient possible. Tout redevient possible pour le Québec. C’est ça, le sens de ces élections, mes amis. Faire en sorte que, pour le Québec, tout redevienne enfin possible.

–30–

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The best speeches from the campaign trail

  1. "A Canada proud of its past…"

    Bbbbbut …Mr Harper i just read your speech and you said…

    Sigh

    Good job you only asked for one of his speeches…there is only one…"fear all but me my children! If i don't get a majority famine will stalk the land…famine i tell you…famine and plagues and pestilence and horrors my children, horrors i tell you…we daresn't go back to HIS time!"

  2. Fear mongering doesn't work anymore. That's what went wrong. It's not working for Harper and his Evil Coalition warnings either.

  3. Layton's Top Five Words:
    change (12)
    bring (8)
    Quebecers (6)
    politics (6)
    ready (6)

    Ignatieff's Top Five Words:
    Ontario (22)
    northern (20)
    equality (16)
    things (13)
    election (11)

    Harper's Top Five Words:
    plan (19)
    Canadians (16)
    Canada (15)
    government (10)
    low-tax (10)

    May's Top Six Words:
    country (11)
    party (11)
    Canadian (9)
    democracy (9)
    issues (9)
    people (9)

    Duceppe's Top Five Words:
    we/our (91)
    Quebec (47)
    Quebecer/s (35)
    Bloc (23)
    country (19)

    Trivial words were omitted. May got six words due to ties. Also, her's was the only speech to have another candidate's name (Harper) within the top 25 words.

  4. I would have expected more French words in Duceppe's speech.

  5. Reading May's speech reminded me a lot of what i liked about the Green Party… That is everything but the environmental part of their platform. Might need to start throwing my vote their way.

  6. Thanks Macleans – this was neat.

  7. I just voted. I went around the party choice 3 times and because of the postings of the speeches today, I almost voted for Elizabeth May. The only reason why I never chose the Green Party was simply because I did not know her candidate in my riding. Never saw any literature, never met her, never seen her name posted anywhere. Perhaps I may have to work with the Greens too for the next election. They definitely have a lot to offer but right now, they have no strong support even from their candidates.

  8. Wow, there is such a big contrast between Layton, Harper and Ignatieff. Ignatieff makes quite a few self-deprecating remarks that positioned him less with people the trust that he could be a statesman-like prime minister. His approach in speeches suggests he’s spouting rhetoric or convincing people of something, rather than EXCITING them by demonstrating leadership and confidence like Layton and Harper did. Layton’s speech is solid rhetoric wise but interestingly very short on policy. Harper’s is also disciplined, a bit more detailed… but always disciplined and succinct.

    Layton has a strong ability to give a speech without alienating you politically. Read his speech and it could be one delivered by a guy like Barack Obama. I suspect this is why so many voters who disagree with NDP founding principles have come to be comfortable with Layton’s NDP.

    Ignatieff is the only one displaying amateur speech delivery. So many examples:

    “And we think this will have a positive…”

    (You are asking to become Prime Minister, you have to KNOW this WILL do X)

    “So now we got that out of the way. That’s good. But I wanna talk about….”

    (It’s never about what YOU want, it what the VOTER wants. THIS IS A SALES PITCH. Speak about how this helps YOU not because its what “I” want !)

    “You have to remember that. He broke…” “We gotta remember that.”

    (This type of statement is an argument with the voter, giving the pretense that we disagree with the speaker and challenging us that we somehow aren’t with him in agreement)

    “The thing about the Family Pack is that it…” “That’s the other thing we got here,..”

    (This type of talk in his speeches comes up constantly. More filler
    phrases. Could you imagine getting away with this type of talking in a
    public speaking class?)

    “We can talk about him all night. It’s kinda fun but after you’ve done it
    for a while, you wanna stop talking about stuff that makes you
    depressed.”

    (It’s statements like this that make the Liberals appear too left in their campaign, this rhetoric makes it nearly impossible for voters partial to the Tories to identify with Ignatieff.)

    “…I wanna spell that out, just for a minute. ”

    (More appearance that Ignatieff is begging for peoples time, and giving those watching him the sense that his time with them is unearned and shouldn’t be taken to seriously.

    “This country runs on equality. It runs on equality of opportunity.” “and the key to equality of opportunity is… ” “That’s it, but there is also equality of opportunity, it’s important. Equality of opportunity.”

    (Not a bad principle, but this type of talking is academic and no one outside of political theory classes uses terminalogy like this. Layton nails at the same points but in much more accessible and friendly rhetoric to the common voter.)

    And I really think that Ignatieff missed the point on the contempt/democracy stuff. Notice that even though the NDP voted with the Liberals on contempt, they didn’t bring it up or focus on it in their speech. They probably knew that the issue didn’t have legs compared to the economy… which Ignatieff actually doesn’t directly refer to once in his speech.

    Overall, these speeches give a good insight into how bad Liberal messaging with Ignatieff had become, and frankly how skilled the NDP and Conservatives have become with nailing their targeted messages to rile up their bases. (And funny enough, even with its problems, I think this speech is properly one of the *better* speeches ignatieff’s ever delivered… ) Either Ignatieff should have listened to his handlers who knew the political climate better, or his handlers had no idea what they were doing. Either way, the writings on the wall with these speeches.

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