Prime Minister Paul Martin delivered a speech in Winnipeg today that set the stage for the second half of this campaign by talking about the values and beliefs which would continue to guide him as Prime Minister.
As Prime Minister, Paul Martin will defend the Canada we have built together.
He will defend its hard-won prosperity by staying out of deficit; defend its place in the world by speaking with an independent voice; defend its unity by standing against the separatists; defend its belief in fairness by protecting our social programs.
With the backing of his Liberal caucus, he will deliver what no other party can: the most progressive and generous tax cuts, the first new social program of our generation – child care – and the best plan for safer, healthier communities.
As the only truly national party, Liberals will protect our unity with strong voices from Quebec. We will support Canadian families. We will defend Canadian values.
The Prime Minister sees Canada as a success, a nation with tremendous potential – Stephen Harper speaks to what he views as its failings.
Paul Martin sees a Canada to be proud of, a nation that is a model to the world – Mr. Harper speaks of how our country comes up short in his eyes.
The Prime Minister sees a Canada we can build on, improve on, move forward on – Mr. Harper speaks of moving in a different direction, away from all we have achieved together and toward a very different country.
The Prime Minister believes that if we are to truly succeed as a nation, we must rally behind the conviction that we must leave no one behind. To do that requires national leadership.
It requires a Prime Minister who believes not in a fend-for-yourself society, but in naming a destination down the road and doing what it takes to ensure we get there together. You cannot cut a cheque for $25 a week and call it a child care strategy. It’s not a strategy. It’s not a solution. It does little to help those parents with children in child care. It does nothing to help those who have trouble finding quality, affordable care for their children.
Liberals differ from Stephen Harper on child care and gun crime, on tax cuts and foreign policy. We differ on issues across the spectrum of policy.
But they also have differences in matters far more elemental than that. A decade ago, when he was a Reform MP, Mr. Harper said the following: “Whether Canada ends up as one national government, or two national governments, or several national governments or some other kind of arrangement is, quite frankly, secondary in my opinion.”
It’s never been secondary to Liberals, or our Prime Minister.
Mr. Harper will say his views have evolved since then. Fair enough. Things change. But it is difficult to understand how believing in the unity of Canada is a position that you evolve to. This is something that most of us feel at the very core of our being.
Canada needs a Prime Minister who will fight for what’s best for all of Canada, who is dedicated to standing against those who would divide us, who is dedicated to passing on a strong and united Canada for the generations to come.
Prime Minister Martin believes in moving forward, not fighting old debates. He believes in pursuing change, but change that builds on all we have accomplished together, not change that would turn away from it.