'Good things just may happen' - Macleans.ca

‘Good things just may happen’

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The text of Jack Layton’s remarks to the Canadian Labour Congress convention yesterday in Vancouver, his first major speech since the election.

It’s wonderful to see so many of you here this week, reaching out and finding new ways to give working Canadians a voice. And I think we’ve shown, when we reach out and invite people to be a part of something bigger than ourselves—good things just may happen.

I’m so happy to be with you today as we launch a new chapter in Canadian politics. Je suis heureux d’être avec vous aujourd’hui, alors que nous écrivons un nouveau chapitre de l’histoire politique canadienne. Je veux vous remercier pour tout votre travail au cours de la dernière élection.

This was an election in which the Canadian people sent a very strong message to Ottawa. That the way things were isn’t the way things have to be. That Canadians have a positive choice. That change is possible. And that it’s time to get Ottawa working for hard-working families.

Que les choses n’ont pas à être comme elles l’ont toujours été. Que le changement est possible. Et qu’ensemble, nous pouvons faire en sorte qu’Ottawa se remette à fonctionner pour les familles.

Canadians from every region of the country came together in this election because they believed that Ottawa can do better. That it has to do better. In this campaign, Canadians elected more New Democrats than ever before, with a clear mandate to put hard working families first. And that’s exactly what New Democrats will fight to do every single day. It’s a mandate that Stephen Harper is best to not ignore.

Over four million Canadians voted New Democrat. And you know what it was you were voting for. You voted to improve public health care. You voted to strengthen pensions. You voted to help families make ends meet. And you voted to grow our economy with new jobs and new opportunities.

Vous avez voté pour mettre fin aux mêmes vieux débats et jeux politiques. Un grand nombre de Québécois ont voté pour du changement et ont fait confiance au NPD pour faire entendre leur voix à Ottawa. C’est un honneur de voir que les Québécois ont fait confiance à notre parti. Cette confiance vient avec une grande responsabilité et un mandat que le NPD prend très au sérieux. Nous allons nous battre à tous les jours afin de mettre de l’avant les intérêts des familles du Québec, et de partout au pays. De les faire passer avant les grandes banques. Avant les grands pollueurs. Avant les grandes compagnies qui envoient des bons emplois à l’étranger.

Yes, Canadians voted to put families at the front of the line. Ahead of the profitable banks. Ahead of the biggest polluters. Ahead of companies shipping good jobs overseas. My friends, this is a mandate that Stephen Harper would be wise to remember, and I think the Canadian people won’t let him forget.

Yes, Stephen Harper won a majority. But he is facing the largest, most united official opposition in 31 years. 103 committed New Democrats from every region of the country. An opposition that enjoys broad support, coming in second in 122 more seats—placing first in Quebec and second in every other province other than Prince Edward Island. An opposition that knows where it stands and will fight every single day to strengthen and protect Canadian healthcare, Canadian jobs, Canadian pensions, and the household budgets of hard-working families.

Stephen Harper a gagné une majorité. Mais il ne peut pas oublier — et je pense que les Canadiens vont faire en sorte qu’il ne l’oublie pas — qu’il va faire face à l’Opposition la plus forte et la plus unie en 31 ans. 103 nouveaux députés du NPD provenant de partout au pays. Une opposition qui sait ce qu’elle doit faire et qui se battra chaque jours afin de protéger et de renforcer le système de santé canadien, les emplois canadiens, les pensions canadiennes, et le budget des familles de la classe moyenne canadienne.

And we’re going to start right from day one of this new Parliament. In this past election, I spoke to too many Canadians worried about their retirement. Seniors, no longer able to make ends meet on a fixed income. Middle-class Canadians who saw their retirement savings wash away in the recession. These are ordinary Canadians looking for action right now.

Plus d’un quart de million de personnes âgées vivent dans la pauvreté. Les mêmes personnes qui ont bâti ce pays ont maintenant de la difficulté à payer leur loyer ou leur épicerie. Un grand nombre d’entre eux ont été forcés de regarder leurs épargnes disparaître lors de la dernière récession. Plutôt que d’ajouter à leurs économies, ils se demandent comment ils pourront profiter de leur retraite.

My friends, Stephen Harper is practically alone in ignoring the looming retirement security crisis. A majority of the provincial governments have recognized the brewing storm. And the overwhelming consensus amongst these provinces is that the most pragmatic, responsible response is to strengthen the guaranteed public pensions—the CPP and QPP. All they are waiting for is a federal government that’s ready to act.

So far, Stephen Harper has not been a willing partner. And so today, I say to all provincial premiers—regardless of which party you represent—when it comes to strengthening pensions, you have an ally in Ottawa. By working together, we can put the pressure on the Harper government and get real action to strengthen the CPP and QPP. And New Democrats won’t stop until the job’s done.

Because this is the kind of concrete, reasonable solution Canadians are looking for out of Ottawa. And it’s the kind of practical approach that the New Democrat opposition will bring to the house each and every day. You can count on it.

Brothers and sisters, let me conclude with a few more words on the election. Chers confrères et consœurs, nous n’y serions pas arrivés sans vous. Sans tous nos amis dans le mouvement ouvrier. Nous n’y serions pas arrivés sans votre leadership. Sans vos idées et votre énergie. Et certainement pas sans tout les travailleurs et travailleuses sur le terrain, qui ont travaillés sans relâche pendant 37 long jours et nuits afin de bâtir le Canada dans lequel ils croient.

I want to thank you for all that you’ve done to bring us where we are today. We did it by working together. And we’re not going to stop now. Together, we’re going to hold Stephen Harper’s government to account. Together, we’ll put forward practical solutions to give working families a break. Together, we’ll continue to grow our movement, reaching out to more Canadians and more communities. Together, my friends, we’ll start to build the Canada we want. A Canada where families come first and where no one is left behind.

Now is the time to roll up our sleeves and make it happen. Thank you.  Merci Beaucoup.