January 15th, 2015

Tom Mulcair's Speech -- 2015 Caucus Strategy Session

Thank you.

Welcome to 2015

Are you ready to bring change to Ottawa?

Are you ready to fight for middle class families?

Are you ready to replace Stephen Harper’s Conservatives with an NDP government and get Canada on track?

I’m ready too.

We are back and we are energized.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

Catherine and I really nice time over the break, but I must admit that I was excited to get back to work with all of you.

Because, let me tell you, if you think that your holidays were busy, try having the extended family of 10 siblings over!

But in all seriousness, I was very excited to get back to work with you all and to start building our plan for a sustainable society.

To get back to work promoting economic growth, but also protecting the environment.

And to continue defending the interests of the middle class.

I couldn't wait to get back to work to take on the challenges facing Canadians.

And over the next two days, we’re going to be discussing those challenges including jobs, the economy and the crisis facing our veterans.

We’ll also review our preparations to run the most ambitious, well-resourced and successful NDP election campaign ever.

To that end, this morning, I am pleased to announce updates to our amazing team led by our National Campaign Director Anne McGrath and our Quebec Campaign Director, Rebecca Blaikie.

As Party President, Rebecca will be chairing our election planning committee.

Over the last three years, Raoul Gébert turned a master hand directing my leadership campaign, and as cabinet leader, he has worked tirelessly for us all.

I’m proud to announce that he will remain one of my close advisors and will continue to play a key role for us in Quebec.

Thank you so much Raoul, from the bottom of my heart.

His will be big shoes to fill.

Thankfully, I was able to convince an experienced veteran to join the team. Alain Gaul has agreed to leave his successful career at his law firm to become my new Chief of Staff, a position he held while I was Minister for Sustainable Development in Quebec.

Also joining the team are two experienced election campaigners:

Michael Balagus led the NDP to victories in Manitoba and will head up our Ontario campaign.

And Brad Lavigne, the Orange Wave Campaign Director, is coming back onboard and will serve as Senior Campaign Advisor.

My friends, throughout our recent travels to every corner of Canada one theme has emerged loud and clear that after nine years of Stephen Harper and the Conservatives Canadians are ready for change.

And it’s not difficult to see why.

Middle class families are working harder but falling further behind.

Incomes are dropping and household debt is rising.

Young families just starting out can’t find affordable childcare.

Five million Canadians don't have a family doctor.

7 out of 10 working Canadians don't have a pension.

And all the while the gap between the middle class and the wealthiest few is at an all-time high and getting wider and for the first time in our country’s history, current generations will be worse off than their parents.

But it doesn't have to be this way.

That’s why Canadians in every corner of the country want change in Ottawa.

Over the past months we have announced just a few of our concrete, practical proposals that will repair the damage Stephen Harper has done and set Canada on the right path.

Under Stephen Harper, senior citizens can’t retire until 67 we’ll reverse that and bring the retirement age back to 65.

Under Stephen Harper, there is no federal minimum wage we’ll fix that and bring in a federal minimum wage at $15 an hour.

Under Stephen Harper, childcare for millions of families is scarce and unaffordable we’ll change that and create or maintain 1 million $15-dollar-a-day childcare spaces across Canada.

Let there be no doubt, we’ll keep the recent additions to the Child Care Benefit and Childcare Tax Benefit.

But young families have told us that what is needed most is affordable childcare spaces – and despite years of broken promises by both the Conservatives and the Liberals before them.

We’ll get the job done.

And under Stephen Harper, inequality has grown between the privileged few and the middle class we’ll reverse that as well and as a first step we’ll scrap his unfair income splitting scheme.

Instead of taking billions of dollars from hard-working families and giving it to the wealthiest 15% who don't need it we'll invest that money in middle class families instead.

Because after a decade of this Conservative government, middle-class families are having a tough time making ends meet.

Stephen Harper’s stubborn approach has caused our economy to falter significantly.

Canadians want a new Prime Minister, a Prime Minister who is ready to put Canada on the right path.

And putting Canada on the right path means mitigating inequalities. We can start by putting an end to income splitting a scheme that benefits only the wealthiest in society.

Instead, the NDP will give the middle class a little room to breathe.

Stephen Harper’s priority is to give more to those who already have the most.

My priority, the NDP’s priority is a stronger middle class.

And in this year’s election, we’ll offer a choice between change or more of the same:

Childcare for young families ormore tax breaks for the wealthiest few;

Accessible education and training or more student debt and record youth unemployment;

Income security for our seniors and veterans ormore Conservative scandals and mismanagement;

Canadians have a choice in 2015.

And friends, this is just the beginning.

Over the coming weeks and months we’ll be announcing more of our proposals to help middle class families offering Canadians a clear choice, a real choice between our plan to repair the Conservative damage orMr. Harper’s plan for four more years of it.

In my 35 years of public life, I’ve learned a thing or two.

In my time around the cabinet table, I’ve been front and centre for the difficult decisions that are made day-in and day out.

And whether it’s meeting with Premiers to work on the future of our federation or with world leaders to discuss global economic opportunities or terrorist threats being Prime Minister is not an entry-level job.

Over the coming weeks and months we’ll invite Canadians to ask themselves which leader has the experience to defeat Mr. Harper and the plan to repair the damage he’s done?

Increasingly, many Canadians appear to be telling Mr. Trudeau that if he doesn’t have the experience for the job then at least he should have a plan.

So far he appears to be satisfied with having neither.

Because in the absence of experience, and without a concrete plan, if we refuse to state where the solutions lie it means we’re just not ready for the job.

But Justin Trudeau still believes that he can just inherit power without proposing a thing.

My family story is that of millions of Canadian families.

Growing up the second oldest of 10 kids we had to work for everything we had.

It wasn’t easy.

We worked hard, played by the rules and lived within our means.

We learned the importance of looking out for one another, sticking together, of community, of generosity.

These are the values that guide me as a husband, as a father, and as a grandfather.

These are the values that have guided me in my 35 years of public service and these are the values that will guide me as your Prime Minister.

My friends, our offer to Canadians is clear:

A government that stands up for middle class families;

That grows the economy and creates stable, full-time jobs, while protecting the environment;

Where our youth get the opportunities they need and our seniors get the benefits they deserve.

We will build a Canada:

Where democratic traditions are respected at home and our reputation as a country is respected abroad.

Where we foster a nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples;

Where we replace fear and division with hope and optimism.

A Canada where everyone belongs and no one is left behind.

This is our offer and this is the choice Canadians have in 2015.

A real choice to change things for the better.

A real choice to promote economic growth while respecting the environment and instituting the polluter pays principle.

A real choice to make life more affordable for the middle class.

My friends we have a lot of hard work to do.

We’ve gotta roll up our sleeves and take our message to every corner of the country

from St John’s to Victoria, from Iqaluit to Windsor, from Rimouski to Mississauga.

Are you up for it?

Are you up for it?

We’re ready, our team is ready, and Canadians from coast to coast to coast are ready.

Let’s get to work.

Game On!

Thank you so much! Let’s go!