Jean Chretien

Liberal Party

Pierre Trudeau

Canadian Alliance

Chretien Assaults the Canadian Alliance

Date: AUG29-00
Source: Official Prime Minister's web site
Keywords: China, trade, taxation, sovereignty, decentralization, United Nations, abortion
Posted: OCT07-00
Jean Chretien Index

Winnipeg, Manitoba
August 29, 2000

Thank you John, and thank you the Manitoba caucus, for organizing such a great occasion. Everything is perfect. It is great that you have organized this weather. It's something that we all needed at the end of the summer.

I am delighted to be with all of you here in Winnipeg today, because it is a great occasion to have the meeting of the caucus. Because as you all know, we have a very big agenda ahead of us as Parliament resumes. It’s going to be a real Liberal agenda, and a forward-looking agenda.

There’s going to be a First Ministers’ Meeting in September to take big steps to modernize and sustain our public medicare system at the beginning of the 21st century. To establish a framework and goals for early child development as a priority for all governments. To agree on a new provincial municipal infrastructure program, to build a modern economic and environmental infrastructure for Canada.

Later in the fall, we will continue to promote our trade agenda with another Team Canada mission to China. And we will prepare for a budget which will accelerate our announced tax cuts, particularly for working families and middle-income Canadians.

For example, from the time we began reducing taxes in 1998, after the elimination of the deficit that was $42 billion until the end of the reduction plan that we have announced in the last budget that Paul presented - just to give you one example of what we have started to do and will complete - a two-income family earning $60,000 a year will have their federal taxes reduced by 35.6%, from $6,400 to $4,100 - a saving of $2,200. Our policy is to reduce taxes for low and middle-income Canadians, not a flat tax for those at the highest income levels.

And we’ll go about this work of building our shared future with the most talented, creative caucus in the House of Commons - a very lively one, a very talkative one, a truly national one, representing every region of Canada.

All of us, Senators and Members, we have been through a lot together. We have fought a lot of battles together, and we have won a lot of victories together. But we have more battles to fight, and more victories to win.

And that is why we have come to Winnipeg. To prepare for a third consecutive majority Liberal government!

Most of you came with me to Ottawa in 1993. Remember the mess we faced? Remember the sense of despair among Canadians? What a difference 7 years makes!

Today, Canadians are more optimistic than they have been for decades.

We have seen sustained economic growth and 2 million new jobs in Canada. Canada is on the right track. And Canadians want to continue moving forward on the same track.

Our party has presented four straight balanced budgets and has reduced the public debt. As you know, we had a deficit of $42 billion. It’s been eliminated. We have reduced the debt by $25 billion in the last four years. But we have kept thinking about those who need in our society! That is why we have the lowest unemployment rate in 25 years!

We are the party of families and children. The party that created the National Child Benefit.

We are the party of the new economy. The party that has connected all Canadian schools. We can talk about SchoolNet. The Millennium Scholarships. The Canada Foundation for Innovation. The 21st Century Chairs for Research Excellence. And the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. We've done all that.

Somebody was writing this morning that we have been too modest. When I was coming in the plane, I read something that will interest you. You know we have created 2,000 new Chairs of Excellence. Here is an article from a British magazine here. From Cambridge, U.K. U.K. Unveils Brain Gain Initiatives. And it says: "A handful of top scientists could soon be paid six-figure salaries to live and work in the United Kingdom." And they created 50 Chairs. Great Britain has a population almost double of Canada. Modestly in Canada, we have created 2,000 Chairs.

It’s what we want, to make Canada the number one. You don’t hear that from the other parties. They don’t talk about the young people, the entrepreneurs, and all that. The investment, the innovation, and all these programs. They don’t talk about it. We do. Because we’re there to build for the future.

But we’ve done a lot of other things too.

Of course, we are the party of national unity. And in the party of national unity it was our responsibility to pass the important legislation that any government or Parliament has passed in a very long time - our Clarity Act.

We’re all here in Winnipeg not only to prepare our 21st century agenda, but also to prepare for the next election. One of the most important and significant elections in our history. A campaign where the alternatives will be crystal clear. A campaign where there will be two very different visions of Canada. Our track is forward-looking. Modern. Broad-based. Balanced. Building on widely-shared values and deeply-held Canadian principles, reflecting the Canadian way.

And there is the train going backwards. On the sidetrack. Stockwell Day and the Reform/ Alliance - the Canadian CRAP - like to call it the "freedom train." As though Canada is not free, as though Canadians are not free.

What total nonsense! What an insult to our shared history, to our shared accomplishments.

What an insult to the suffering of those on the real freedom train 150 years ago. Escaped slaves coming to Canada for freedom.

The Alliance train is heading in the wrong direction - backwards, not forwards - a train with no seats for the vast majority of Canadians.

But there are reserved seats on the train for the people whose stated goal is breaking up our country. After his lunch date with Brian Mulroney, Mr. Day - we call him now Blocwell Day - was caught with the Bloc - remember a few weeks ago - in the bed? He ran away with his pants. Look at yesterday. He never learns. He proudly announced the recruitment of two former Bloc Québécois MPs to run for his party in the next election.

I’m telling you, my friends, this is no way to run this country!

The Canadian Alliance has become the unholy alliance. My friends, history has taught us how dangerous it is to try to seduce separatists. Canadians have one question for Stockwell Day -- who will be his Lucien Bouchard? And he wants 40 of them. I don’t want any of them!

And he has suggested that all taxes be collected by the provinces. You read that didn't you? They will send the leftovers to the federal government. Can you imagine Lucien Bouchard and Mike Harris sending the government - elected by all Canadians - an allowance every month, if they decide that we have been good little boys and good little girls?

I'm telling you, this is no way to run this country!

Indeed, only the Bloc Québécois and the Alliance share this view of the role of the government of Canada. What a fundamental difference from what we Liberals stand for. What a fundamental rupture with the moderate consensus that has always existed in Canada about the role of the government elected by all Canadians. Those who believe in a radically decentralized Canada, with no real role for a national government, have a seat on the train. But there is no room for the vast majority of Canadians.

This is not a way to run this country!

There is definitely a seat on the train for those who oppose a progressive income tax. There is room for those who believe that the rich need more money, and that working families and middle-income Canadians don’t. That is why he supports the flat tax, the same tax for the rich as for working families and middle-income Canadians. The dream of millionaires, and the nightmare of everyone else!

Our government, Paul in his last budget, we have given a plan to Canadians that will be implemented in the next four years, and we started three years ago.

The difference from what we’re proposing is that under the flat tax, for example, a taxpayer earning $200,000 a year will save more - $22,000 a year. A $500,000 will save $62,000. And a millionaire, or somebody who makes a million, will save $130,000. You think it’s the way to run a country?

When we are privileged in a civilized society, we share with the others. That is the way that we've been educated. There is only one commandment in the Alliance Bible - thou shalt not tax the rich more than the average Canadian family.

This is no way, my friends, no way to run this country!

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is precious to Canadians, supported by a very broad consensus across our country. A fundamental value of all Canadians, and very basic to the Liberal Party. And especially for the Leader of the Liberal Party, because I was the Minister of Justice who introduced and defended the Charter of Rights in the House of Commons.

Yet, as a minister in Alberta, Stockwell Day pressured his government to disregard and circumvent court decisions protecting minority rights. But happily, Ralph Klein disagreed with him. Ralph is not that bad. So those who oppose the Charter of Rights and Freedoms should climb on the freedom train. They have a seat, but there is no room for the rest of Canadians. Majorities can always protect their own rights. It is minorities who need the protection of a Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The wrongly accused have no seats on the freedom train. In fact, they may lose their freedom completely. Because he says that he’s tired of what he calls the endless appeals allowed by our criminal justice system. We know that courts are only human. They can make mistakes. But just ask David Milgaard, Guy Paul Morin, and Donald Marshall, if there are too many appeals in our system. I have to tell you, one of the proudest moments of my public life was the night that I read the documentation as Minister of Justice on Donald Marshall. And I made the unprecedented request to the appeal court of Nova Scotia to review that file. And eventually, after years and years in jail, Donald Marshall was freed. That is why we need a system of justice in Canada.

Supporters of the National Rifle Association have a first-class seat on the train but there is no room for the supporters of gun control. No room for those, like the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, who believe that effective gun control makes our communities safer.

My friends, this is no way to run this country - when we know that in Canada we have five times less murders than in the United States by gun. So we have to keep that in mind when we see people circulating in the street, that we’ re protecting them with that.

Opponents of a women’s freedom to chose to have a seat on the freedom train. We Liberals believe in a women’s right to choose. But he wants a devise national referendum on this right. To break the social peace we have had in Canada on this issue ever since the Supreme Court decision of 1988.

My friends this is no way to run this country!

And Atlantic Canadians have no seats on the train. The engineer thinks that they are too lazy to get to the station on time.

Young entrepreneurs have no room on his train. He never even talks about them. When he talks about young people, all he can talk about are young offenders.

This is no way to run this country!

Now he talks a lot about the virtues of free vote in the House of Commons. We have had more free votes in the Liberal party than any other parties - but he preaches that now. But he does not practise what he preaches. A couple of months ago, members of the provincial conservative caucus in Alberta wanted a free vote on Bill 11. What did Mr. Day do? He interrupted his leadership campaign. He momentarily stopped preaching the gospel of free vote. He rushed back to Edmonton, said "Ready Aye Ready" and voted as a bloc with the conservative caucus for Bill 11. Then he returned preaching about the virtues of free vote.

This is not the way to run this country!

And anyone who believes that Jesse Helms should be making Canadian foreign policy has a seat on the train. Just think about the Alliance foreign policy paper says. That Canada should consider withdrawing from the United Nations. That the land mines treaty is an example of "dilettantism" and is "peripheral to Canada's national interests." If the party of so-called family values believes that trying to protect little children from being blown up by land mines - months and years after a war is finished - is dilettantism, can someone explain what an "Agenda of Respect"could possibly be about.

And I want to use this occasion to pay tribute to a great of Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lloyd Axworthy. I have been travelling around the world and I’m very proud of my cabinet and my caucus because they are travelling abroad. You know that is what is opening the eyes of everybody to what Canada is all about. I am told that in the United States, two thirds of the congressmen don’t have a passport. Here in Canada, all my members travel. I’ ve been with them. They talk about the values that we share in Canada and there is nobody who does better than Lloyd Axworthy. You know his agenda of human security. All the other items that he has been working on, and I’ve been working with him on.

We know now that the world is very different. There is only one superpower and it’s a great occasion for a middle power like us to play a role. And Lloyd Axworthy makes me very proud to be Canadian and to be a Liberal.

So Ladies and Gentlemen, I don’t want to make to long a speech, I’ve been away from the stage a little bit, but I just want to tell you that we're ready for an election very soon!

And we will take them on because we have values that we have to defend. Look at the program of the Alliance/ Reform or whatever they change their name to. They even tried to sell Canadians a program on flat tax that (Steve) Forbes in the United States spent 30 million dollars to try to sell to the Republican to the South of the United States and he got two votes.

Do you think we are worried about going into an election in which we will speak about Canadian values? We will speak the language that Canadians know so well and that has made us an example to the world. The language of hope. The language of inclusion. The language of tolerance. The language of compassion. And the language of sharing.

That is why we are in politics. To work every day to make our country a better country. And what satisfaction we have had that over the past seven years the United Nations has proclaimed Canada as having the best quality of life in the world. Seven straight years that we have been number one!

Do you think we are afraid to face the Canadian electorate with what we've done? Seven years of good government. Seven years of balancing the books, reducing taxes, reducing the debt. But also - and this is the Liberal way, the balanced way - to do what is needed for the people who are poor. For the families that have only one breadwinner, to give to the children the decency that they need to go to school. This is the Canadian way. We started to share at the beginning of Confederation. You remember in 1869, Joseph Howe of Nova Scotia wanted to separate from Canada because he felt that Nova Scotia at that time was the provider of Confederation. And then the wealth moved -- from Nova Scotia to Quebec to Ontario, to the West and so on. But I remember very well the stories in my own family. When my grandfather and my family on my mother’s side were farming in Saskatchewan and Alberta and they were very happy at that time to see that the Canadians of other parts of Canada could share.

So ladies and gentlemen, we are starting a great caucus. We will prepare a great program and together we’ll prepare the program and win an election that will keep Canada, in the 21st century, the best country in the world.

Vive le Canada!

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