Stephen Harper capped off the first day of the election campaign by depicting his rivals as risky gambles who can't be trusted to make the right decisions for the country.
The Conservative Leader spoke in front of hundreds of supporters in Montreal about NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair's "socialist and protectionist" policies, while attacking Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's inexperience.
"Some people will say, 'Let's take a chance with Justin or Mulcair.' But our future is not a lottery," Mr. Harper said. "Greece took a chance with a left-wing government … which took a terrible situation and made it worse."
He added that in life, "when you lose at 6/49, you throw out your ticket and move on. But when a country loses its economic credibility, all citizens lose, for a long period of time."
Mr. Harper was speaking at a community centre in the riding of Mont-Royal, which is the Conservative Party's best hope to make inroads in the Montreal area. He said that the city has almost everything, "except Conservative MPs."
He repeatedly called for the election of a "majority Conservative government" on Oct. 19, stating it would afford Quebeckers with a stronger voice at the cabinet table.
But there were dozens of protesters in front of the Ben Weider Jewish Community Centre, representing a wide variety of the Conservative Party's opponents in this election. There were union workers, anarchists, environmentalists and supporters of Palestine, some of whom shouted insults as Conservative supporters arrived for the partisan rally.
"We're setting the tone for the campaign," said Alain Robitaille of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
Given the large Jewish community in Mont-Royal, Mr. Harper spoke at length about his government's pro-Israel policies, but also his willingness to take strong positions on the international stage. He argued that neither Mr. Mulcair nor Mr. Trudeau could be trusted to uphold his government's agenda.
"On one side, you have a team that has provided clear and courageous leadership in tough and dangerous times. On the other side, you have improvisation and ideology," Mr. Harper said.
The Conservative Leader said that the terrorist attacks on Canadian soil last October served as a reminder of the dangers of the international jihadist movement. He argued that his government's response, including launching a military mission in Iraq and Syria, was proof of his ability to protect Canada's interests.
"But, friends, sending people on such a mission, even when almost every single ally and partner of Canada is doing the same thing, is a tough decision, but these are the decisions a government has to make. Can you imagine Thomas Mulcair having to make such decisions? Or Justin?" he asked.
He said the NPD has voted against all anti-terrorism bills brought before Parliament because of the party's "ideology."
Regarding Mr. Trudeau's foreign policy plans, Mr. Harper said: "Maybe he thinks he can charm ISIS just like he thinks he can charm Iran.
"Our government will stay the course, because that is what is in Canada's best interest. We will not back down; we will not weaken our law enforcement agencies; we will not pull our troops out of the fight," Mr. Harper said.