The prepared text of Thomas Mulcair’s speech to the NDP caucus this morning.
Thank you very much.
Feel the energy in this room.
This is the team that speaks for Canadians.
This is the team that’s going to hold the Conservative government to account.
And this is the team that will build a stronger, fairer Canada.
Over the summer, we’ve fanned out across this great country to do something politicians don’t do all that well these days.
We listened to Canadians.
This summer I’ve travelled from Victoria to Caraquet and from St. John’s to Calgary.
Just last week I had the chance to meet with business and community leaders throughout Southern Ontario.
I visited factories and employment centres in cities like Windsor, Brantford and Oshawa places battered by job losses.
And everywhere I went, I met honest, hardworking Canadians who told me they feel left out of Stephen Harper’s Canada.
The auto parts worker in London who worries his shop and his job will be the next one shut down.
The deckhand off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador who wonders if he’ll get his EI this winter.
The mother of two in Gaspé who knows she’ll have to work an extra two years before she can retire.
In Mr. Harper’s Canada, these are the people left to fend for themselves.
In Mr. Harper’s Canada, if you’re not a well-connected insider, you’re simply not on the radar.
The truth is, this Conservative government wants us to believe that we have to accept less. That our children have to accept less.
Our Prime Minister tells us the services and benefits we’ve relied on for generations are suddenly unaffordable.
Institutions that define who we are as a country: universal, free, public health care, Old Age Security, Employment Insurance.
Yet he continues to dish out massive tax cuts and subsidies to some of Canada’s worst polluters.
Despite 50 years of economic growth, Canadians are falling behind.
Yet for the friends of this government, the tap is flowing as freely as ever.
Just last week, Mr. Harper called this “the new normal.”
Well I’m here to tell you the Prime Minister is wrong.
Because New Democrats are going to show Canadians that we can do better.
New Democrats believe in a Canada where we work together and lift each other up.
Our history is filled with examples of what we can achieve when we are united not divided.
New Democrats believe in a Canada that meets its obligations today but also builds for the future.
For our children’s future.
And in a country that leaves our communities better than off, not struggling to get by.
That’s the vision four-and-a-half million Canadians voted for last year.
Day-in-and-day-out, it’s the vision New Democrats are fighting for.
We’re showing Canadians that we can achieve more when we work together.
And that the public has a right to expect better of all politicians.
New Democrats are showing that you can vote for the change you want and actually get it.
My team and I will continue to hold Mr. Harper’s Conservatives to account.
For their reckless budget choices.
For their scandals and mismanagement.
Here we have a Prime Minister who spent last spring lurching from scandal to scandal.
But instead of hitting the reset button instead of showing even an ounce of the accountability he once promised Mr. Harper stubbornly dug in his heels.
We have a government that’s taken the biggest military procurement in our history and turned it into a fiasco.
It’s clear now that the F-35 file has been botched from day one.
A rigged procurement process $10 billion hidden from Parliament costs spiralling out of control one set of books for cabinet, another for the Canadian public.
And after all that, we still don’t have a plane that meets Canada’s needs.
So our job as New Democrats and my job as Opposition leader is to hold this government’s feet to the fire.
To make it abundantly clear what these Conservatives are all about and how New Democrats would be different.
That’s why, this fall, we’ll put forward a positive, optimistic message for Canadians to see.
One that creates the good-paying jobs and long-term growth we need without sacrificing our environment.
One that restores the balanced economy we’ve had for generations instead of putting all our eggs in the resources basket.
One that builds opportunity for young people instead of letting them drown in debt.
And one that holds true to the values that make us Canadian where no one is left behind.
Canadians trust the New Democrats to do politics differently.
And friends, let me tell you, that’s just what we’re going to do.
All across this country it’s a great time to be a New Democrat.
Right here in Ottawa for the first time Stephen Harper faces a strong, determined, structured Official Opposition.
In Manitoba and Nova Scotia, New Democratic governments are proving that we are extraordinarily competent public administrators.
Next May, BC will join that list and elect a New Democratic government.
In Ontario, Andrea Horwath is showing Queen’s Park and all of Ontario what real leadership is all about.
And for the first time ever, the NDP is the party of choice in Newfoundland and Labrador.
But make no mistake our work is not done.
In fact, it’s just begun.
Now we have to work even harder to reach out to Canadians right across the country.
Now more than ever, we have a responsibility to unite progressives of every stripe under the NDP banner.
Last May, Canadians gave New Democrats a historic opportunity.
They elected the first NDP Official Opposition and the first federalist majority in Quebec in over two decades.
New Democrats must rise to the occasion.
I know we are ready.
Because we’re the only party with the hopeful progressive optimistic vision to unite Canadians from coast-to-coast-coast.
Our team is made up of competent and well informed people. We are not the only ones who think so.
Our colleague Joe Comartin has just been appointed Deputy Speaker of the House.
I would like to congratulate him and promise him our full collaboration to restore a bit of civility in Parliament.
I also want to congratulate the MP for Toronto-Danforth, Craig Scott, who will succeed Joe as Official Opposition critic for Parliamentary and Democratic Reform.
We’re not going to wait until 2015 to prove that the New Democratic Party is ready to govern, because Canadians already count on us.
We’re going to force the Conservatives to explain themselves this week.
On Thursday, we’re going to debate a motion of our own, asking the House to recognize that Canada is currently experiencing a time of unprecedented economic downturn, which has weakened many parts of the country.
We’re going to demand that Stephen Harper accept his responsibilities and work with the other governments of the country to build a balanced economy for the 21st century.
We’ve already seen what we can accomplish by working together
We must give a strong voice to all Canadians.
We’ll see if Stephen Harper is up to the task.
Together, we can build a fairer Canada and a better world.
Now let’s get the job done.