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The Debate

For the last 10 weeks, Canada’s federal leaders have been interviewing for the nation’s top job.

The Globe asked the candidates: What is it about your personal leadership style – not the party, not the platform – that makes you best suited for the job of prime minister?

The Debaters

Debate contributor
Stephen HarperLeader of the Conservative Party of Canada
Debate contributor
Justin Trudeau Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada
Debate contributor
Thomas MulcairLeader of the New Democratic Party
Debate contributor
Elizabeth MayLeader of the Green Party of Canada

The Discussion

Debate contributor

Stephen Harper :

The most important lesson that I have learned as Prime Minister is that we really do not know what kind of challenges we will face together in the future. As prime minister, you need to be able to deal with and respond to difficult challenges and unexpected surprises. One example of this is the global financial crisis that we were forced to respond to several years ago. At that time, our government took extraordinary action to do what was necessary to protect the Canadian economy.

Let me give you another example. We saw several years ago the other parties criticizing our government for refusing to spend Canadian taxpayers’ money to bail out the Greek financial system. At the time they even said our decision brought shame to Canada. If you fast-forward several years to today, I think nearly all Canadians would agree that we absolutely made the right decision when we decided not to spend Canadian taxpayers’ money bailing out the Greek economy. Looking forward, we really do not know what is coming in terms of the global economy.

Our prime minister needs to have the proven experience to deal with these types of difficult challenges. Someone who has the experience to make the decisions required to protect our economy. Over the past years I have showed that I have the proven experience required to manage and protect the fragile Canadian economy and jobs in the face of global economic turmoil. I have the experience to make the tough decisions like understanding the extraordinary action that was required to protect the Canadian economy in the global financial crisis, and rejecting the proposals from the Liberals and NDP to raise taxes and send Canadian taxpayers’ funds to bail out Greece. On this point, there is a clear choice facing Canadians in this election.

While I have the proven experience to manage and protect the Canadian economy, Justin is not ready to lead. Justin is promising to throw our country into a permanent multibillion-dollar deficit. As prime minister you cannot lead on slogans. In this election the choice facing Canadians is who is best to manage and protect the fragile Canadian economy and your job in the face of global economy turmoil. I believe that I am the Prime Minister with the experience to do that.

Debate contributor

Justin Trudeau :

Debate contributor

Thomas Mulcair :

Canadians know how high the stakes are in this election. There is a palpable desire for a change in our federal government.

Most Canadians have a deep feeling of unease that this country has begun to reflect a leadership focused on fear and division, rather than on hope and optimism for the future.

We want change – there is no doubt – but we also know that not just any change will do. Canadians are looking for leadership in Ottawa that reflects our collective values.

My years of public service reflect those values, but to understand the kind of leadership I’d bring to the Prime Minister’s Office, you first have to go back a few years.

My story is that of millions of Canadians. I was raised on middle-class values: working hard, living within our means, and looking out for each other.

Being one of the eldest, I played my part in keeping my eight younger brothers and sisters on the right path. Believe me, I changed many a diaper. Later, my family was incredibly supportive of me as well. When I started McGill Law at 18, my sister Colleen helped me with the cost of books whenever my summer job tarring roofs wasn’t enough.

It wasn’t always easy growing up in such a big family, but it’s where most of my important life lessons were learned. Early on, I knew a leader needs to have strength of conviction, and just as importantly, needs to back up principles with action.

In the years since, I have dedicated myself to public service because I wanted to help people, and because I believe that a better Canada is possible if we work together to solve our larger challenges.

It was my mentor, former Quebec education minister Claude Ryan, who taught me to bring opposing views to the table as a way to tackle the most difficult problems. I met some of my closest friends during that time, and I rely on them as advisers to this day. Those experiences will shape my approach to leading this country.

Imagine a Prime Minister’s Office that valued co-operation, consultation, and responsibility to the public.

Imagine a prime minister who committed to sitting down with the premiers twice a year and treating our provincial, territorial and Indigenous leaders with respect.

It may be hard to conceive of right now, but it is my promise to you.

Canadians are ready for change. From Whitefish Bay to Surrey, people come up to me and tell me that they reject Mr. Harper’s failed approach. From the secret deals out of the PMO to C-51, and from cuts to health care to the Trans-Pacific Partnership – Canadians want to turn the page on the Harper era, and usher in a new era of principled leadership that puts Canadian families first.

My vision for a better Canada is clear. I hope you’ll join me in electing a principled government that’s ready to build a brighter future for all Canadians.

Debate contributor

Elizabeth May :