When we were at our best, we were in touch, open to our fellow citizens and confident enough in them to take their ideas and work with them to build a successful country.
If there is a lesson to be drawn from our party’s past it is not where we landed but how we got there. We were deeply connected to Canadians. We made their values our values, their dreams our dreams, their fights our fights.
The time has come to write a new chapter in the history of the Liberal Party.
This will be a campaign about the future, not the past. I want to lead a movement of Canadians that seeks to build, not rebuild. To create, not recreate.
After all, we live in a very different world, my friends. Twenty years ago, I was part of the first graduating class at my university to get email. I was of the last group of pre-Google high school teachers.
And now, my kids don’t know there was a world before Blackberries.
But if the way we will build it is new, what we have to build is timeless.
We know what Canadian families want. Good jobs. A dynamic and growing economy that allows us to educate our kids as they mature, and to care for our parents as they age.
We want a compassionate society that pulls together to help the vulnerable, and gives the less fortunate a chance at success.
We know that Canada is the freest society on Earth because we trust each other. So we want a government that looks at Canadians with respect, not suspicion. That celebrates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That believes in your choices, your values and your liberty.
Some say that youth carry our future. I say youth are an essential resource for our present. We need to empower all young Canadians, through world-class education, through rich and relevant work experience, and through opportunity to serve their communities and their world. Their voices, their choices, matter deeply, as do their actions: they are already leaders today.
And directly, to our First Nations, the Canadian reality has not been - and continues to not be - easy for you. We need to become a country that has the courage to own up to its mistakes and fix them together, people to people. Your place is not on the margins. It is at the very heart of who we are and what we are yet to become.
We want a foreign policy that will give us hope in the future and that will offer solutions to the world.
We want leadership that fosters and celebrates economic success in all regions of the country. Not leadership that seeds resentment between provinces.
We need to match the beauty and productivity of this great land with a new national commitment to steward it well. My generation understands that we cannot choose between a strong and prosperous economy, and a healthy environment. The conservative approach may work for a few, and for a while. But we know we can’t create long term prosperity without environmental stewardship.
We need to learn what we have forgotten. That the key to growth, to opportunity, to progress, is a thriving middle class. People with good jobs. Families who are able to cope with modern life’s challenges.
A thriving middle class provides realistic hope and a ladder of opportunity for the less fortunate. A robust market for our businesses. And a sense of common interest for all.
The great economic success stories of the recent past are really stories of middle class growth. China, India, South Korea and Brazil, to name a few, are growing rapidly because they have added hundreds of millions of people to the global middle class.
The news on that front is not so good at home; I don’t need to tell you that. You, like our fellow Canadians all over the country, live it every day. Canadian families have seen their incomes stagnate, their costs go up, and their debts explode over the past 30 years.
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