On Friday night, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau addressed the general meeting of federal Liberals in Ontario. Below is the prepared text, along with video of the speech. You can place this speech alongside recent efforts from Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair as the ballot question(s) for the 2015 election continue to take shape.
I’m excited to be in Ontario to see lots of familiar faces, and what’s even more exciting: seeing lots of new faces. Thank you for making time in your busy schedules to join us here.
Speaking of familiar faces, I’d like to start with a few quick acknowledgements. First and foremost, a huge thank you has to go out to Howard Stevenson for his years of leadership. Howard is a life-long Liberal. He actually worked for the party in the 1980s as a fundraiser, running our direct-mail marketing program. Howard has been a riding president and a central region president for the LPC(O). He was elected LPC(O) treasurer in 2004 and he is now leaving after four years as president of the LPC(O) team. Thank you, Howard, for all your hard work.
I know that she’ll be thanked in a more festive capacity tomorrow night, but I also wanted to extend my personal thanks to Judi Longfield for her many years of dedicated service.
And thank you and congratulations to our incoming president, Tyler Banham. His work for the Liberal cause spans nearly 25 years. Tyler, I know there were periods in there where your hope was tested more than your hard work, so thanks for sticking with us.
Hard work. It’s what we’re about. Look around you. This very riding is a great example of it. How do I know that? Because it’s John McCallum territory. For 14 years John has represented the people of Markham-Unionville in Ottawa with principle and talent. And when that next election comes and John looks to win again in the new riding of Markham-Thornhill. It’ll be one of 15 new ridings in play. And guess what? Hard work will pay off again, as it just paid off for Kathleen Wynne and Ontario Liberals.
Now: About that next election. Someone asked me recently whether the campaign has already started.
I think you know the answer to that question.
I’ve also been asked a lot about the Liberal party’s chances of forming government when it happens.
I hope you know the answer to that question, too.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’re about hope and hard work, after all — not just hope. Hard work is what gets you places. Hard work is how you earn your spot. And Canadians are giving us a chance to earn ours.
Because this isn’t just about winning an election. That’s just one part. We are here to earn the trust of Canadians in order to represent them and to work hard for them. The right to serve must be earned. My parents taught me that at a young age.
The Conservatives seem to have forgotten that idea.
I don’t take too much stock in polls and neither should you. But if the Conservatives are in trouble let’s remember why.
The Conservatives have closed their eyes and shut their ears. They have shut themselves off from the provinces. They’ve shut themselves off from the cities. They’ve shut themselves off from Parliament. And they’ve shut themselves off from Canadians.
The government is out of touch. And it’s taking Canadians for granted.
Nous n’allons pas faire pareil.
Selon moi, nous ne sommes pas au service de nos concitoyens pour gagner, on est là pour servir. Et nous devons travailler avec acharnement, tous les jours, pour mériter un tel privilège. C’est vrai pour nous tous : tout aussi vrai pour les bénévoles au téléphone que pour les aspirants candidats que pour les députés.
Pour mériter la confiance des Canadiens, nous devons être à la hauteur de leurs attentes. Ils doivent savoir que nous leur proposons des idées nouvelles, originales et positives. Que nous attirons des Canadiens qui travaillent avec acharnement pour servir leurs intérêts dans la vie publique.
Ils veulent savoir que nous nous préoccupons de ce qui est important pour eux. Que nous bâtissons l’équipe et le plan qui viendront remplacer ce gouvernement usé et complètement déconnecté de la réalité.
Canadians want to know that we are focused on what matters to them. That we are building a team and a plan to replace this tired, out-of-touch government.
Not just with a different government. With a better government. The good news? The hard work has already begun. We’ve already nominated nearly one-third of our candidates, including 31 here in Ontario. Every week we add more impressive names to our already impressive slate of candidates.
I mentioned John McCallum. A man who is fiercely proud to represent Markham, and the more often I visit, the more often I can see why. John is proud of his community. And since he’s too modest, let me tell you why we’re so proud to have him.
Unlike some members of Parliament that come to mind, John is a real economist. A serious one. In fact, he is one of the most cited economists in Canada’s history. He was chief economist at the Royal Bank of Canada and — here’s a little known fact — he was my dean at McGill. He is a constant source of advice and wisdom on economic policy. We are so, so lucky to have him in our caucus, in our party, and in Canada’s Parliament.
The same is true for Dr. Jane Philpott, our candidate in Markham-Stouffville, and one of the key organizers of this event. Jane was chief of family medicine at Markham-Stouffville hospital and one of the most respected physicians in the province.
Jane’s not alone. Her co-chairs are Anne Tennier, our newly nominated Hamilton Centre candidate who will bring her experience in business and conservation to our team. And of course, one of our newest members of Parliament, Arnold Chan.
I’m enormously proud that with Arnold’s victory, we have the first Chinese-Canadian GTA MP in the history of our great party.
I’d like to thank all three of our event co-chairs for all they’ve done to bring this event to life.
Arnold’s not the only new face around our caucus table. Because of your hard work, we have won every by-election in Ontario since our last LPC(O) general meeting. Arnold Chan, Chrystia Freeland and Adam Vaughn are already invaluable members of our team and I know they are each so grateful for everything you have done to make their wins possible.
Those victories mean something. Yes they mean we have amazing new MPs. They also mean we can take those lessons we’ve learned and apply them to contests all across this country. That’s what this weekend is all about.
C’est l’occasion pour vous de rencontrer plus de libéraux, de vous faire de nouveaux amis, et, par-dessus tout, d’en apprendre plus sur ce que vous pouvez faire pour contribuer à changer les choses dans vos communautés. J’espère que vous partagerez votre propre expérience, et aussi que vous poserez énormément de questions difficiles. Je serais déçu si ce n’était pas le cas.
Je vous lance aussi le défi de réfléchir aux enjeux qui sont propres à l’Ontario. Ils sont nombreux – sans doute plus que ce que je peux aborder dans une brève allocution.
I want to talk about three of those issues that are important to Ontario that come to mind.
Infrastructure, immigration and health care.
Let’s talk infrastructure. If we want to build a stronger economy, one that creates more good jobs for more Ontarians. That means spending isn’t just about new roads. It’s about getting people to work on time. It’s about getting our goods – whether they’re car doors or diamonds or data – to the market quickly and efficiently. It’s about affordable housing, safe water, public transit and communities that work.
Canada is a country with such talent and potential that it should be absurd to frame things like affordable housing and public transit as ambitious goals. Yet here we are. That’s what comes of having a federal government that just doesn’t work well with others, and certainly not others who don’t share their ideology.
This is an old, stale way of thinking, my friends. And I believe it is out of touch with what Canadians expect from their leaders in 2014.
But it’s no wonder. Mr. Harper has been in power a long time, 3,154 days to be precise, but who’s counting?
And his Ontario team? Well, they’ve been around even longer. Mr. Harper’s two senior Ontario ministers attended their first caucus meeting the year Windows 95 came out.
That’s right, by the time of the 2015 election, John Baird and Tony Clement will have been on the public’s payroll for 20 years.
Tony and John like to talk the talk of the private sector. Well, I don’t know about you, but I think it’s high time we sent them to experience the private sector first-hand, for the first time.
Somehow, despite all this experience, the Harper Conservatives still don’t seem to get Ontario. Joe Oliver, who represents Eglinton-Lawrence, ought to.
He should be working alongside Premier Wynne to build a plan to help Ontario prosper. Instead, what does he do? When she put out a budget focused on jobs and growth, he attacked it as “a route to economic decline.”
Think about that for a second. That’s Canada’s finance minister undermining consumer and investor confidence in the province that is 40 per cent of our country’s economy. That’s just short sighted, partisan and irresponsible. And it needs to stop.
Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Ontario needs a partner in Ottawa, not an opponent.
My friends, you and I are going to prove to Ontarians that we have the plan and team to be that partner.
This antagonistic attitude toward Ontario has produced some sadly predictable results.
You don’t have to spend much time in the GTA before you realize we have serious infrastructure needs, especially when it comes to transit. And that those needs are holding our economy back.
What has Mr. Harper’s response been? What has his government offered to Ontario by way of infrastructure investments? This past spring, the Conservatives launched their Building Canada Fund. Then they followed up by cutting it by nearly 90 per cent in the first year.
Last year, the government made $1.7 billion available for infrastructure projects. This year? $210 million. And that’s not just the funding set aside for Markham, or even all of Ontario. That’s all the fund is making available for all of Canada over the next year. And guess what? The Conservatives are holding on to most infrastructure cash until after 2015.
I know – and you know – that our communities need to repair bridges, upgrade roads, invest in water treatment and affordable housing, today. That funding shouldn’t be dependent on voting Conservative in the next election. How many more catastrophic floods do our towns and cities need to live through before we get serious about planning for future challenges, including the ones that come with climate change? These challenges get harder to solve and more expensive to fix the longer we wait.
Canadians who need work should be trained and put to work in the the high-quality, well-paying jobs that we know infrastructure projects create.
In order to take advantage of those opportunities, we need the best workforce possible, here in Ontario, and all across Canada. That means, among other things, we need better immigration policy in this country.
That’s why I believe – and our party believes – that growing our job market also means finding better ways to support new Canadians, many of whom are entrepreneurs. Here is the Conservatives’ idea of support: Shut down visa offices at home and abroad. Artificially increase wait times. Freeze family reunification applications for two years, then come out with new rules so strict that thousands who might have come to Canada don’t even bother to apply.
If we want to open our front door to the best and the brightest that the world has to offer, we can’t leave our compassion locked out on the back porch. The benefits of family reunification reach far beyond the individual. And they pay dividends in greater productivity and stronger, more diverse communities. To me, those are real family values. Ontario’s values. Canada’s values.
You know how to create a better Canadian economy? Create more Canadians. People come here to build a life, for themselves and their families. They want to be citizens of a great country, not just temporary employees of a company. That’s the Canada Liberals have fought for since Laurier, and that’s the Canada I believe in. Central to that healthy economy are healthy citizens.
It was 10 years ago tonight that prime minister Martin sat down with provincial and territorial premiers over dinner and started a conversation about health care and how to fund it. Three intense days of negotiation followed. There were offers, counteroffers. There was frustration – even some “unparliamentary language” caught on tape.
Mais au terme de ce débat, les premiers ministres des provinces et des territoires, et le premier ministre du Canada, ont proposé aux Canadiens l’Accord sur la santé. Un accord sur 10 ans qui allait augmenter les paiements de transfert fédéraux et définir des normes nationales en matière de mesures de soins de santé qui importent le plus aux yeux de la population canadienne – comme les temps d’attente et l’accès à un médecin de famille.
A decade later, even the accord’s strongest proponents admit that it wasn’t perfect — but it made real, positive progress. Wait times came down across the country, especially here in Ontario. More Canadians found primary caregivers, again especially here in Ontario. Federalism is about co-operation and partnership. It’s about mutual respect.
What happened when that 10-year agreement ended tells us a lot about where health care ranks today as a federal priority. Because what happened since… was little better than nothing. Think about the two different approaches.
That is not a difference in management style. That is the difference between seeing provinces and territories as full partners deserving of respect … or not.
Ontario, you elected one of the smartest, most ambitious, most compassionate premiers this country has ever seen.
She needs a full partner in Ottawa. One who understands that the demographic shift is already upon us, and requires a serious and substantial response. A response that features real experts and real investment.
And speaking of experts in health care and research, I’d like to acknowledge another of our candidates who is here with us tonight, Celina Caesar-Chavannes. Celina is running in the upcoming Whitby-Oshawa by-election. When she’s not working hard to help us go four-for-four in Ontario, Celina runs her own business, and teaches the importance of diversity in clinical health research. I hope you have a chance to meet Celina this weekend. Her enthusiasm, her entrepreneurial spirit, is something to behold. Whitby-Oshawa is going to be a challenging race — possibly the hardest one we’ve faced so far. But I have faith in Celina’s ability to connect with her community, and I have faith that you will do everything you can to help her along the way.
Now, I know I have brought a big change to this party with our open competitive nominations policy. And it’s working really well. Let’s talk about that
First, I made that choice because the party we need to build can’t exist only on paper. It has to have deep roots in communities across Canada. Local contests bring new blood. They’ll prepare new candidates and their organizations for the much tougher fight that will come with the general election. Hard work made my win in Papineau possible, and it will make a win in 2015 possible, too.
Second, even though they are contests, remember that we’re all on the same team. I’ll say what any good hockey coach would say: go hard in scrimmage, but if anybody misses a game because of an injury they get in practice, I’ll be one unhappy coach.
Third, and most important, remember that just because the nominations are open, it doesn’t mean we should be passive, we must all work to find strong voices to represent our communities in Ottawa.
Let me be very clear on this:
We have two very big jobs to do between now and the election. I intend to lead you in both. We need to build a new plan for governing Canada, and put together the best team Canadians have ever seen to implement that plan.
We will beat the Conservatives and win the next election because we have the best team and the best plan, because we offer Canadians a hopeful vision of their country, and because we’re going to work incredibly hard to get it done.
Hope and hard work will beat anger and arrogance every time.
On that work, I’ve got some great news
This past summer, a time when Canadians are normally preoccupied with barbecues, summer camp and the beach: 30,000 Ontarians signed up to be members of the federal Liberal party, our strongest summer ever.
And as of today, across Canada party membership is now over 200,000.
That’s proof that Canadians care about politics, that they feel engaged, that they want the kind of country we’re building.
And one more thing. You know what’s most exciting about that number? Of those 200,000 Canadians, more than half are stepping up for the very first time.
That’s what happens when Liberals set aside their differences and focus on the people who really matter: Canadians.
Our opponents don’t get this. We all know about Mr. Harper and his party’s negativity and divisiveness. But I guess Mr. Mulcair took a hard look at the Conservative way of doing politics and said: If I can’t beat them, I might as well join them.
This week, he confirmed it: He and his New Democratic Party will also go negative and turn to personal attacks.
Well, let me tell you this my friends. Let the New Democrats join the Conservatives. While they focus on us, we will continue to focus on Canadians.
I am so proud of all that we have accomplished in the last two years. And I know that even more impressive results await us in the exciting year that lies ahead.
So thank you all again for being here this weekend. I’m excited to see you all and I know we’re all ready to get to work.
With a team like this, with our hope and hard work, I know we can build the kind of government, the kind of country Canadians deserve.
Thank you, Merci beaucoup