I stand before you a son of Quebec. A grandson of British Columbia. And a servant of Canada.
These Canadians you just met are a few of the thousands I’ve had the honour to meet, to talk with, and to learn from over the past 6 months.
Their stories are remarkable. Remarkable, because they are so common in Canada.
With hope and hard work, every day Canadians live the values that unite this country. Optimism, openness, compassion, service to community, generosity of spirit.
My friends, our party must be their party.
We must convince Chanchal [who was in his introduction video] that we share his work ethic, his desire to serve, his optimism about the future.
We must prove to Penny that we are in it for her. That we understand the burdens she carries, every day, to make life better for her kids, her neighbours, her community.
We must build with Justine and Ali a country worthy of their dreams and show them that Canadians across our land already share the same values as Quebecers: integrity, openness and community engagement.
To those who think that Canadians do not share common values, I encourage you to spend more time in this country. All of this country.
My fellow Liberals, my message to you is simple. To lead Canada, we must serve Canadians. And we must prove it with acts more than words. I say that not as a son who learned it from his father, but as a father who every day learns that from his kids.
The Conservatives have forgotten about the value of service. The only time they talk about “community service” these days is when it’s a punishment for a crime. And, anyway, the only person Mr Harper wants his caucus to serve is their leader.
Well, that’s not good enough. We need to be a party of community leaders, devoted to community service. That’s why I am calling for open nominations for all Liberal candidates in every single riding in the next election.
Mr. Harper is showing us how governments grow out of touch. Canadians are getting tired of the negative, divisive politics of the Conservatives. And are disappointed that the NDP, with Mr Mulcair, has decided that if you can’t beat them, you might as well join them.
Mr. Mulcair and Mr. Harper are masters of the politics of division. They are content to exploit differences and disagreements to further their own interests.
East against West, Quebec against the rest of Canada, the wealthy against the less fortunate, cities against regions, and so on.
This is old politics. But in the short-term, it can work. It was how Mr. Harper’s government was elected.
We need to be better than that. We are an optimistic, hard-working, problem-solving people. Canadians want a positive alternative that brings new solutions, new ideas, and a new way of doing politics. I’m more convinced than ever, that if we work hard every day between now and then, the Liberal Party of Canada will be that positive choice in 2015.
So let me be perfectly clear on one point.
I want to be your leader because I want work with you, and with millions of Canadians, to build that positive alternative to the Conservatives. One that Canadians will choose freely because we will have earned their trust.
Canadians don’t just want a different government. They want a better government.
Those who think we need to win at any cost – whatever the means – are mistaken. It is a mistake to believe that just getting rid of this government will make all of Canada’s problems disappear.
This is a naive and simplistic way to approach our future.
We are facing real, and significant challenges.
Middle class Canadians have seen their incomes stall, while their costs go up, and their debts explode. Simply getting rid of Mr. Harper will not get them their first real raise in 30 years.
Young Canadians will not get jobs just because Mr. Harper is gone.
Quebeckers will not automatically re-engage at the heart of our federation simply because Mr. Harper is no longer Prime Minister.