Skip to main content

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks about the upcoming session of Parliament during a speech to supporters, Monday, September 15, 2014 in Ottawa. The Conservatives are expected to use the annual fall economic statement, which should be delivered by early November, to announce that they’ve balanced Ottawa’s books after half a decade of deficits and anticipate an even larger budget surplus than forecast.

Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is promising tax cuts for Canadians in a matter of months, using an election-style rally to fire up Conservative troops as Parliament returns and signalling the campaign to win in 2015 has begun in earnest.

The Conservatives are expected to use the annual fall economic statement, which should be delivered by early November, to announce that they've balanced Ottawa's books after half a decade of deficits and anticipate an even larger budget surplus than forecast.

A Tory government source said they expect the fall update would feature tax breaks. The economic update, however, has not been finalized and it's possible tax cuts would instead be delivered in the 2015 budget five or six months from now.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Harper, in his ninth year as prime minister and trailing Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in the polls, devoted much of his annual September address to caucus to lauding his record in government and explaining why Canada needs more of him at the helm. He pointed to a strengthening job market and big trade deals as evidence of his economic stewardship.

The Prime Minister's biggest challenge may be voter fatigue. Just last week Mr. Harper's time in office surpassed Louis St. Laurent's and, within about two months, the Conservative Leader's tenure will also exceed both Robert Borden's and Brian Mulroney's length of service in the post.

The razzle-dazzle Harper event Monday, held at the Ottawa Convention Centre, featured huge Canadian flags as a backdrop, Bachman-Turner Overdrive's Taking Care of Business booming from speakers and hundreds of cheering supporters.

It was apparently an effort to sell voters on the idea, as popularized by a new Conservative Party slogan, that after all these years they are still "better off with Harper."

Normally, Mr. Harper delivers his September address to caucus in Parliament's Centre Block, which is less than one kilometre from the convention centre, a private venue that must be rented by the party.

Mr. Harper assured MPs and supporters Monday that tax breaks are coming, adding that the Tories' governing vision is "not complicated" and can be boiled down to two things: "We're here to create jobs and lower taxes" in Canada, he said.

"A balanced budget will allow us to continue delivering lower taxes for Canadians," he said. "We will keep delivering for Canadians and their families … I look forward to the economic and fiscal update this fall, when we will be taking the first steps in the next part of our Conservative plan for Canadians."

Story continues below advertisement

He didn't say whether tax cuts would be announced in the fall update or in the budget that follows.

The next election is expected in October, 2015, but Mr. Harper can head to the polls whenever he wants.

Conservative strategists are determined to ensure voters receive tax breaks far enough before an election that they can feel the benefit of the cuts. The Tories' 2011 election promises will be a priority, meaning tax-cut pledges that were linked to a balanced budget. These include allowing parents of children under 18 to split some income for tax purposes, targeted tax credits to encourage physical activity, and increasing the contribution limit of tax-free savings accounts to $10,000. Other options include reviving the home-renovation tax credit or enriching the Universal Child Care Benefit for parents of young children.

Mr. Harper avoided naming political rivals in his speech, but he couldn't resist a obvious jab at Mr. Trudeau as he played up his foreign policy record, casting a Conservative government as a distinctively more bold player on the world stage.

"In the councils of the world, there is no ambiguity as to where Canada stands," he said, touting his outspoken support for Israel, his vocal opposition to Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine and Canada's efforts to reassure European allies and help fight the Islamic State in Iraq.

Devoting about 25 per cent of his speech to foreign policy, the Conservative Leader implied Mr. Trudeau was unprepared to take on the job of speaking for Canada abroad.

Story continues below advertisement

"Canadians are rightly sickened by [Islamic State's] savage slaughter of anyone who doesn't share their twisted view of the world," the Prime Minister said.

"We know their ideology is not the result of 'social exclusion' or other so-called 'root causes,'" he said, a reference to the Liberal Leader's 2013 comments on whether those behind the Boston Marathon bombing felt marginalized by society.

"It is evil, vile and must be unambiguously opposed," Mr. Harper said of the Islamic State.

"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."

Mr. Harper's pitch to voters is a variation of the appeal he used in the 2011 and 2008 elections: that only he can be trusted to steer Canada through uncertain times.

He promised Canada more of his populist agenda, from tough-on-crime measures to interventions in the market that benefit consumers such as banning telecom companies from charging customers for paper invoices.

Story continues below advertisement

With a report from Bill Curry

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter