Stephen Harper has unofficially launched the 399-day election campaign to 2015.
In an unusual move, the prime minister held his annual back-to-the house of Commons address at the Ottawa Convention centre — not on Parliament Hill — in front of MPs, staffers, Conservative Party supporters and the media.
It was a rah rah campaign-style speech which gives Canadian a glimpse of what’s to come in what’s sure to be a seemingly never-ending blitz of Tory mail-outs, advertisements and public relations.
Of course there was top line mention of the economy:
“Our plan is not complicated.We’re here to create jobs and lower taxes. We’re here to help Canadian families,” Harper told the crowd.
“Even as other countries have stagnated, or worse, Canada has created
nearly 1.1 million jobs and they are overwhelmingly private-sector, full-time, high-paying jobs.”
Harper also raised the specter of an uncertain world.
"We live in an uncertain world, indeed, a dangerous world. But the measure of good government the true test of leadership lies not
in achieving success in times of stability and peace, but in doing so
during times of risk and danger,” he said referencing conflicts in Iraq, Ukraine and Israel.
"Canadians have wanted us to pursue a foreign policy that is rooted in
protecting our interests and projecting our values. Not as our critics have long advocated, to just go along to get along.”
And finally. he eluded to what goodies Canadians can expect to receive from the project $3.8 billion budget surplus.
"We Conservatives know Canadian taxpayers have not done the hard work of balancing the budget so that governments can raise taxes,or accumulate more debt,To funnel big envelopes of cash to interest groups," he said.
"A balanced budget will allow us to continue delivering lower taxes for Canadians as [Finance] Minister Oliver just did on Employment Insurance premiums for small business."
The rest of the speech was peppered with the usual Conservative party tenets of crime and safety and ‘helping Canadian families.’
[ Related: Four things to expect as Parliament resumes Monday ]
The Monday morning event is the beginning of what most people expect to be a year long campaign by all parties — a consequence of set election dates.
Team Harper does have a lot of work to do.
The latest Forum Research poll have the Liberals at 40 per cent of Canadians, down slightly from last month’s 41 per cent support. The Conservatives meanwhile saw their support rise slightly from to 34 per cent 32 per cent.
An interesting aside to this morning’s speech was a rumour which began Sunday evening suggesting that Harper would resign at this event today.
Harper’s speech should certainly put an end to those rumours — at least now for now.
The next election is scheduled for October 19th, 2015.
(Photo courtesy of The Canadian Press)
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