Our international reputation on the environment will not be restored the day after Mr. Harper leaves.
The truth is, Canadians want to vote for something, not just against somebody. They want to vote for a long term vision that embodies our values, our dreams and our aspirations.
They will not get that vision from a Frankenstein’s monster, at war with itself over fundamental issues like the Constitution, Natural Resources and Free Trade. It would fail in its primary goal: it would extend, not end, Mr. Harper’s career.
From Ponoka Alberta, to Île-des-Chênes Manitoba to Edmunston New Brunswick, Canadians are hoping that we have learned that lesson. Over the course of this campaign, I began to describe for Canadians a vision of this country that is very, very different from this government’s.
Our highest economic objective will be prosperity for the middle class, and those Canadians who are working hard to join it. Our grounding principle will be equality of opportunity. Our agenda will develop our skills, support our vulnerable, attract investment, and expand trade.
It is a vision that embraces diversity. One that recognizes Canada is strong because of our differences, not in spite of them. One that believes deeply in federalism, balancing national priorities with regional and local means of meeting them.
A vision that sees newcomers to this country as community– and nation-builders; as citizens, not just employees, or a demographic to be mined for votes.
Ours is a vision that knows economic prosperity and environmental health can – and must – go hand in hand in the 21st century. We will not ignore science, or shy away from tough, urgent issues like carbon pricing. Nor will we succumb to easy politics by demonizing one sector of the economy or region of the country.
A Liberal Party led by me would never use western resources to buy eastern votes.
We will stand for national unity by offering Quebeckers and all Canadians a progressive political project that rallies us all. We will be audacious and ambitious, because this country is greater than the sum of its parts.
Our foreign policy will promote peace, democracy and development. Canada must be a key player on the world stage, bringing forward positive debate and discussions – not divisive ones as is the case today.
My fellow Liberals, make no mistake about it. With me as your leader, you will get a clear, positive vision for Canada. We’ve begun to lay it out in this campaign. We’ve focused on the big issues like the prosperity of the middle class, a healthy democracy and sustainable economy.
It’s a vision that you and I are going to finish, together, with Canadians.
That is doing politics differently.
If we work hard and stay optimistic, we will put forward an irresistible alternative to the Conservatives 30 months from now. Irresistible not because it is Liberal, but because it will be 100 per cent, undeniably Canadian.
It won’t be easy. Nothing worth doing ever is. But that is the path to victory in 2015.
Hope, my friends, yes. Always hope. But more than that. Hope and hard work.
You see, the biggest problem with Mr Harper’s government is not that they’re mean-spirited. It’s that they’re unambitious.
After all, what is the Conservatives’ economic message these days? That Canadians should be happy we don’t live in Europe?
What’s worse, the Conservatives use our challenges as opportunities to demonize their opponents and divide Canadians, not to find solutions.
It is up to us, the Liberal Party, to say that the Conservative way of doing politics is not good enough. Canadians are better than their politics, Canada deserves far better.
Now, there are those who ask me: what makes you think you can take this on?
To them, I say this: I have lived and breathed every square kilometre of this country from the day I was born. I’ve lived and worked in the east and the west, in French and in English. I am proud to have lifelong friends, colleagues and supporters from the Arctic archipelago to Point Pelee.