Justin Trudeau's convention speech: Attacking the 'disconnected' Conservatives [Full Transcript]

The Liberal leader delivered some familiar lines for party members, while going after the Conservatives over climate change and pandemic relief

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke at the Liberal national convention on Saturday afternoon. His message to party members struck familiar notes about building back better and supporting the middle class—and those ‘working hard to join it’. He also had some pointed remarks about opposition leader Erin O’Toole and the Conservatives, who he accused of flirting with “disinformation on public health and vaccines.” Here is a transcript of his remarks:

To each of you who is tuning in this weekend, it’s so good to join you at our 2021 Convention.

I know that well over half of you are first-time delegates. To everyone who is new: welcome. Thanks for stepping up. And to everyone else: it’s great to be gathered with you all once again, even virtually.

Que ce soit votre premier congrès ou non, les choses sont bien différentes cette année. Quand on était tous ensemble à Halifax en 2018, personne n’aurait pensé que notre prochain congrès serait un congrès virtuel.

Peu importe d’où vous vous connectez, mes amis, je suis très content d’être ici avec vous.

Et on va se le dire: l’année a été difficile.

On connaît tous des familles qui ont perdu un être cher à cause du virus. On connaît tous quelqu’un qui n’a pas pu faire ses adieux à un grand-parent, un parent ou un ami.

Within our own Liberal family, just this fall we lost a true Grit—and former Prime Minister—the Right Honourable John Napier Turner. John was not just a good friend, a gifted athlete, and an exceptional politician. He was a remarkable leader who brought people together with his vision for a Canada brimming with hope for the future.

And this year, maybe more than ever, I think we’ve all realized just how powerful that idea can be. Because forced isolation taught us new ways to connect with our friends and neighbours, and be there for each other.

A global crisis showed that local, individual actions really matter. And a faceless virus allowed us to better see the faces that have been there for us all. The brave nurses I spoke to last month at Victoria General in Winnipeg, the vaccine clinic staff I met in Montreal, and the frontline caregivers I Zoomed with at a retirement home in Saint John, the communities celebrating holidays virtually, the PPE drives, the groceries left on porches for neighbours, and Liberals like you. In the last year, this team has truly stepped up.

I think of Dr. Doug Eyolfson, past—and future—Liberal MP, who is in the meantime caring for ICU patients during this pandemic. Or current MP Kamal Khera, who went back to help as a nurse at a long term care home during the first wave, and is now administering vaccines.

However you’ve helped, and I know a lot of you have connected with Canadians on phone calls and during weekends of action, you remind us that when we talk about hope and hard work, when we talk about sunny ways, we’re talking about you.

Ensemble, on a accompli beaucoup de choses depuis 5 ans. Et juste dans la dernière année on en a fait énormément.

Mais le travail est loin d’être terminé.

Pendant qu’on lutte pour en finir avec la pandémie – et on est dans les derniers mois, on l’espère – il faut se préparer pour ce qui vient après.

Et nous, au Parti libéral, on sait qu’un gouvernement doit travailler pour tout le monde. Pour tous les parents, tous les travailleurs, toutes les petites entreprises, tous les jeunes, et toutes les personnes âgées.

Recently, I spoke to Najma and Karim. They’re parents and small business owners from Toronto who had written to me about what it’s like not just to raise a family during a pandemic, but to run a restaurant, too.

As Najma shared, it’s really tough.

Karim and Najma work hard. They put their heart and soul into building their restaurant from the ground up. They gave back to their community.

In other words, they did everything right. They couldn’t have planned for a global pandemic. And they shouldn’t have to face one alone.

When times got tougher than they could ever have expected, when the regular lunch crowd they rely on started working from home, they needed a government that would have their back. That listened to the real challenges they face and then put in place real support.

Because at the end of the day, that’s what politics should be about. Real solutions to real problems. I know that’s why I got into politics a dozen years ago. And I know that’s why you’ve joined in, too.

So what does having people’s backs look like? What does that mean for Najma and Karim?

Well, it means that instead of worrying about rent on their restaurant, they could count on the rent subsidy to bridge them through this crisis.

It means that instead of laying people off because they couldn’t make payroll, they were able to keep their employees on the job with the wage subsidy.

And it means that instead of losing sleep over the cost of raising a family, they were able to use the Canada Child Benefit to buy school supplies like the tablet their kids need for classes from home.

La dernière année a été difficile pour Najma et Karim, et pour bien d’autres familles et propriétaires de petites entreprises. Mais comme l’a dit Najma, tout soutien qui aide à traverser cette tempête est comme un rayon d’espoir à travers les nuages. Ce qu’on fait, on le fait pour des gens comme Karim et Najma. Et on va continuer d’être là pour tous les Canadiens.

My friends, here’s the thing: There are over 400,000 kids who were lifted out of poverty these past years with programs like the Canada Child Benefit. Well, when some of them are at risk of going hungry again because of this pandemic, that means there’s still work to do.

Across the country, there are seniors who have the secure retirement they deserve because we increased the Guaranteed Income Supplement. But too many of them didn’t get the care they needed in their senior’s home this spring. So there’s still work to do.

And to the Asian-Canadians, Black Canadians, Indigenous peoples, and people living with disabilities who make this country stronger; to the LGBTQ2 communities and the racialized communities and the faith communities that make Canada richer; when anyone, anywhere faces racism, discrimination, or hatred; when anyone, anywhere feels the weight not just of this pandemic but of inequity and injustice, there’s still work to do.

Mes amis, quand il y a des obstacles devant nous – que ce soit en lien avec la pandémie, l’ALÉNA, ou tous les autres défis qu’on relève ensemble – notre équipe libérale est toujours claire par rapport aux valeurs qu’on défend: On est là pour les Canadiens.

On est là pour la classe moyenne et ceux qui travaillent fort pour s’y joindre. Et on va toujours avoir un plan progressiste pour bâtir une économie forte et propre qui fonctionne pour tous.

As Liberals, we know what real change means. Because what this team knows is that finding real solutions means addressing the real challenges people face.

And that’s something that Erin O’Toole’s Conservative Party just can’t quite grasp.

How disconnected do you have to be to admit that you would have cut CERB, a lifeline for millions of people, during the worst economic crisis in a century? How disconnected do you have to be to call young people lazy when their summer jobs disappeared because of a global pandemic? How disconnected do you have to be to flirt with disinformation on public health and vaccines, while a deadly virus takes loved ones, friends and neighbours? And how disconnected do you have to be to refuse to admit climate change is real, even as people’s basements flood and wildfires tear through communities?

The problem for Erin O’Toole is that he’s not interested in real solutions to real problems.

In fact, he’s already shown that he’s willing to say different things to different people at different times if he thinks it will help him get ahead. He says he wants to make communities safer. But to get the support of the gun lobby, he promised to make assault weapons legal again. He says he defends a woman’s right to choose.bBut to win the Conservative Party leadership, he told his MPs they could introduce anti-choice laws.

When I first ran for Liberal leader, I said that the debate over a woman’s right to choose was finished. So we made sure you could only be a Liberal candidate if you agreed to protect that right.

In 2015, we laid out our plan for a stronger middle class. Well, the first thing we did after that election was to cut taxes for the middle class by raising them on the wealthiest one per cent.

In 2019, we promised even stronger gun control. And last year, we banned assault weapons.

And at the start of this crisis, we told Canadians we would have your back. So we rolled out CERB, we created the wage subsidy, we invested in schools, in health care and in vaccines.

In fact on vaccines, while Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives gleefully told Canadians it might be years until they got their shot, the reality is very different.

Minister Anand and the Liberal team surpassed our promise of six million vaccines by the end of March—and by the end of last week we got to nine and a half million doses.

There are millions more vaccines on the way, and we are on track to meet our commitment that every Canadian who wants to will be fully vaccinated by the end of the summer.

Dans notre équipe libérale, on n’attend pas pour passer de la parole à l’action.

Quand vient le temps de mettre de l’avant des idées progressistes, on ne tourne pas autour du pot – on agit.

Beaucoup de gens ne le savent pas, mais quand on compte tout le soutien fourni aux Canadiens depuis le début de la pandémie, c’est 8 dollars sur 10 qui proviennent de notre gouvernement.

En d’autres mots, 80 per cent de l’argent qui sert à aider les gens à traverser la crise est fournie par le gouvernement fédéral.

L’année dernière, plus de 8 millions de personnes ont eu recours à de l’aide financière fédérale pour payer leur loyer et mettre de la nourriture sur la table. Et on a déployé les Forces armées et la Croix-Rouge canadienne dans les CHSLD pour aider nos personnes âgées les plus vulnérables.

Tout ça, ç’a le mérite de mettre les choses très au clair :

Pendant que le Bloc fait semblant d’être le seul parti qui peut parler au nom des Québécois, nous, on livre la marchandise pour les Québécois avec de l’aide directe pour les ainés, les entreprises, les familles et les travailleurs.

Quand vient le temps de livrer pour les Québécois, ça prend des Québécois au gouvernement.

Nous, les Libéraux, on prend des mesures historiques pour promouvoir et protéger le français pas seulement au Québec, mais partout à travers le Canada. Et on est le seul parti qui a un vrai plan pour s’attaquer aux changements climatiques et pour léguer un avenir plus propre et plus prospère à nos enfants.

Dans notre plan, on interdit les plastiques à usage unique.

On protège 25 per cent des océans et des terres du Canada pendant qu’on plante 2 milliards d’arbres. Et on atteint la cible de zéro émission nette d’ici 2050.

On préfère choisir l’action au lieu de la division. On est toujours là pour les Québécois, et pour tous les Canadiens, et on va continuer d’avoir un message rassembleur au lieu de chercher la chicane.

My friends, what it all comes down to is this: Which party has a real plan for the real problems in the real world?

Some refuse to accept reality, all while offering falsehoods and division. Us? Well, this team is focused on solutions to the challenges we face, from health to jobs, from human rights to the environment.

This team is focused on building back better for the middle class and people working hard to join it, while taking climate action to create good jobs and keep our economy growing for years to come. In other words, our team is focused on a better future for all Canadians.

Les militants libéraux comme vous, vous avez toujours été là pour ouvrir la voie quand est venu le temps de réfléchir aux grands enjeux et d’agir.

Ç’a été le cas pour le droit égal au mariage et pour la légalisation du cannabis.

Vous avez tenu votre bout, même quand le Parti conservateur s’attaquait à ces mesures.

D’ailleurs, avec le parti Conservateur, on voit bien que plus ça change, plus c’est pareil. Pendant leur congrès, ils ont refusé de reconnaître que les changements climatiques sont réels.

Contrairement à ça, vous, depuis le début, vous avez toujours continué de pousser pour faire avancer les choses.

Au cours de la dernière année, vous avez demandé à plus d’un million de Canadiens leurs idées pour bâtir un avenir meilleur. Et aujourd’hui, au plus grand congrès politique du Parti libéral de tous les temps, on intègre ces idées à notre plan.

My friends, you’ve always been the heart of our Liberal movement.

On the big things that are still ahead, just like on everything we’ve already done, I know I can count on you to remind us that better is always possible. Because I know that you’ll be there with your energy, your positivity, and above all your conviction that together we can create an even better country to call home.

The conversations we’ve had this weekend, the policy debates ongoing, the ideas we’ve shared: This is not just about policy. This is about people. It’s about parents like Najma and Karim. In Karim’s words, he came to Canada to build a good life for his kids and to give back to this country. That was what he dreamed of. And that’s what so many parents dream of. It’s about kids who can feel excited for their future, and one day, build a life for themselves in a clean, thriving economy. And it’s about neighbours and friends who will each have a real and fair chance at success.

Les prochains temps ne seront pas toujours faciles, mais malgré tout, on reste optimistes avec une vision positive pour l’avenir.

On continue de travailler pour que les petites entreprises reviennent en force. Pour que plus de familles puissent s’acheter une première maison.

Et pour que nos communautés soient plus sécuritaires et plus en santé.

Together, we get to choose a brighter future. Together, we get to grab hold of a once-in-a-generation moment to build the kind of tomorrow we all want to see. So reach out your hand to a neighbour who had a blue, or orange, or green lawn sign last time around. Phone up a friend who has a different perspective, and maybe didn’t vote for us in the past. Perhaps they’re feeling disenchanted. Perhaps they’re feeling left behind because they know climate change is real.

Tell them about the plan that together, this Liberal team is building with hope and hard work. And then – and this is important – listen to the things that they need us to do even better.

In this past year, we’ve all been each other’s neighbours. If anyone ever doubted it, COVID-19 has shown us that we are always stronger together. When we’re there for each other. When we lean on each other. When we listen to each other.

So the partisanship that’s far too often the norm in Ottawa. We know that’s not who Canadians are. We are people who get that we’re in this together. People who understand that even when we’re doing ok, if our neighbour is struggling, we’re all worse off. Who understand that when all of our kids have a chance at success, when all of our entrepreneurs have an opportunity to thrive, when all of our communities have clean air and clean water, the future is brighter for all of us. The future is brighter for each of us.

Ensemble, on traverse une crise sans précédent. Et ensemble, on se prépare à bâtir un avenir qui va être meilleur que tout ce qu’on a connu avant. Il y a de meilleurs jours qui nous attendent. Et je sais qu’ensemble, on va y arriver.

Thank you, my friends. Merci, mes amis.