Stephen Harper celebrates 5 years in power

The following is the speech Stephen Harper gave to supporters in Ottawa on January 23rd, 2011 to celebrate 5 years in power.

Friends, today we celebrate our fifth anniversary!

So, it’s been five years! What a day. What a time. And what a journey it has been, my friends, since the people of Canada gave us their trust!

It’s almost hard to remember what Canada looked like that winter. Back then, back in the winter of 2006,
the sponsorship scandal hung heavily in the air. Lobbyists ran Ottawa. People had lost faith in the ability – and in the integrity – of their national government. Parents were disrespected, thought more likely to spend money on beer and popcorn than take care of their children. Provinces were denied the resources to properly deliver the services they were bound to do by federal law. The votes of New Canadians were taken for granted. Victims of crime were ignored. In Quebec, support for sovereignty was surging. Our Canadian Armed Forces were neglected and demoralized. No one in the world knew where Canada stood. You could almost say that it really seemed like a Canadian winter!

So, five years ago today, on January 23, 2006 Canadians gave our Party a mandate to shake up Ottawa. We have been faithful! We have kept that trust! And we have delivered!

In a moment, friends, I will remind you of what we have accomplished together. Despite the fact that we have been a minority government, it is a long list. Nous avons accompli beaucoup de choses en cinq ans.

But, before we talk about that, let’s spend a moment – just a moment – not on the what, but upon the why. For, ours is not a party of entitlement. We’re not in Ottawa because we think we’re owed or for what we can get. If anybody is, they’re in the wrong party! For Conservatives, it is about public service and public service means private sacrifice. As it must, my friends, as it must.

So why do we do it? Why do you do it? I think you know.

We are here because we love Canada! We’re proud of Canada. Canada is, and always has been, our country. And we want Canada to be a true north that is as strong and as free as it can be, in every way that matters, the best country in the world! That’s why we’re here. That’s why we strive. That’s why we serve.

But, when we say we love Canada, what is it that we love? The snow? The ice? The 49th Parallel? The programs? The agencies? No, of course not. Those are all important things, but, as Conservatives,
we believe this: that if Canada is to be great, it must be great for Canadians.

You cannot have policies which hurt people, but are somehow good for the country. You cannot tax your way to prosperity. You cannot regulate your way to efficiency. You cannot earn respect by projecting weakness. You cannot strengthen families by insulting parents.

Shall I go on? You cannot have safe streets by shutting down prisons. You cannot build a united country by burying and rewriting its history. And my friends, this goes to the core of things: Canadians are a fair people. They want Canadian values to mean honesty, integrity and opportunity for all. And that not rewards or payoffs, not power for its own sake, is what we, as Conservatives, strive for in our national government.

So, for five years, we have been making good decisions, not perfect decisions but good decisions, and for the right reasons, for Canadians. We started with the Federal Accountability Act. After the sponsorship scandal, the HRDC boondoggle and all the rest, how much we needed to restore trust in government! Typically, these changes were fought us all the way. But, in the end, we got them passed. And Ottawa is a better place as a result.

Look at the difference. When, in the global recession, we had to launch extraordinary stimulus measures they were done – done quickly and competently. The money went into projects for people not into the pockets of supporters. And that, my friends, is the difference that we have made.

We cut taxes. We started by cutting the GST, as we promised, from seven, to six, to five per cent. Cutting the GST was real tax relief, my friends, for every Canadian, every time they stand at the cash till. We’ve cut personal income taxes, for seniors, for students, for tradespeople, for transit riders, for families on fitness programs, to name some among many.

Ask Martyn and Cynthia Turcotte. They have children, they both work. They’re from around here, but they could be from anywhere in Canada, because they are among nearly 19 million Canadian families who today pay up to $3,000 less in federal taxes per year than they did when we took office.

Or ask Ron and Kathy Gaudet. Ron is retired. As a result of our action on the economy, they can now income split, and couples who do that save an average of almost $1,000 a year, a saving they did not have 5 years ago.

Then there are the folks on whom so many Canadians depend, the good people who start businesses
and create jobs. My friends, you get more of what you encourage. We want more entrepreneurs to create more jobs, so we’ve lightened their tax load too.

People like Renren Bai. Renren is a small business owner whose enterprise is growing as a result of our low-tax policies, and his business now employs more people as a result.

Friends, when we took office, Canada had one of the highest rates of taxation among the major developed countries for the people who create wealth and jobs. Soon, it will have the lowest! And that is why
the Canadian economy is creating jobs!

We delivered choice in child care, through the universal child care benefit. That’s $100 per month, for every pre-school child, directly into the hands of people like Pearl and Joseph Amuah. Pearl and Joseph are just starting their family. Who knows what’s best for children? Conservatives know who: and their names are Mom and Dad.

For years, friends, despite decades of soft-on-crime policies, Canadians have been deeply concerned about crime, especially about gun, gang, and drug violence. So we have taken action to make our streets and communities safer, to stop coddling criminals, and start protecting victims. And people know it, and know that there is still much before Parliament that is yet to be passed.

Canadians expect to live in a country where they don’t have to worry when they turn off the lights at night,
where they don’t have to look over their shoulders as they walk down the street; where they can expect to find their car where they parked it. Sometimes that means taking the bad guys out of circulation for a while. So that’s what we’re doing. Does it cost money? Yes. Is it worth it? Just ask a victim!

Friends, along with protecting citizens, protecting our country is government’s other core job. Again, think back to 2006. Our Canadian Armed Forces, our men and women in uniform had gone through what they themselves called “a decade of darkness.” Equipment was worn out. Morale was poor. Remember how the previous government sent them to the Afghan desert in green uniforms?

Since we took office our government has, with the exception of the navy, almost completely re-equipped the Canadian Armed Forces. And the navy’s next! My friends, I want you to remember: No matter how some will
downplay the need do equip the military, we know from experience that governments of all stripes will send them into a war theatre at the drop of a hat. As they did in Afghanistan.

And that is why we will ensure that our men and women in uniform, our country’s most committed citizens, committed to the point of their very lives – we will ensure they will always have what they need to do their jobs as well and as safely as possible!

We have built a stronger and more united Canada. We’ve addressed wrongs like Indian Residential Schools and the Chinese Head Tax to help Canadians move forward together. We recognized that Québécois form a nation
within a united Canada. We have upheld the value of Canadian citizenship. Our new citizenship guide imparts a deeper understanding of Canada’s history, symbols and values. Can you believe it, the previous one, dating from nineteen ninety four, didn’t even mention Remembrance Day?

We’ve cut the landing fee for new immigrants, folks like Renren Bai who we just met, who arrived in Canada two years ago to start her newspaper. We have also expanded immigrant settlement support and kept our doors open during the global recession. We’ve also introduced tough legislation to combat immigration abuse and human smuggling. And for all these reasons, today, the Conservative Party of Canada is the first choice among hard-working, law-abiding New Canadian voters!

And, of course, friends, we all know what the biggest issue is. We have delivered strong, stable, economic leadership. It has been a very difficult couple of years in the global economy. As we are a trading nation, what has happened to our partners, has affected us.

It has been an historic, unprecedented challenge. But, we have met it with unprecedented success. When the worldwide recession came to our door, we took action! Canada’s Economic Action Plan kickstarted activity from coast to coast to coast, through more than 23,000 projects. We put Canadians to work. Helped those who had lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Helped struggling industries find their feet. And, of course, we advanced already planned roads, bridges, harbours, airports, knowledge facilities, recreational facilities, college and care buildings – every conceivable type of infrastructure that Canadians depend on to live and work investments that will deliver dividends for decades to come.

The result is more than 460,000 net new jobs, the soundest financial sector in the world, five consecutive quarters of economic growth the lowest deficit and debt among the G8 in most cases by far; and because of all this, the unqualified assessment of the world that, my friends, that if you had to pick one major developed country in which to live, work and invest, Canada would be the place!

That’s part of the reason why Canada stands tall in the world. It’s about being an example to follow. Whether it’s assisting neighbours in need, like Haiti, whether it’s working to stabilize the world economy at the G20, supporting Israel’s right to exist, standing up for Canada’s sovereignty in our Arctic, or helping save the lives of mothers and children in the developing world, it’s about principled leadership.

And that, my friends, that is not the same thing as swimming with the current for the sake of easy applause. In our dealings with other nations, we have chosen what is right, and what is good. And, sometimes, as a consequence, we pay a price. But, Canada must reflect the true character of its people. Honourable in our dealings. Faithful to our commitments. Loyal to our friends. By turns a courageous warrior and
a compassionate neighbour. That is the spirit of the Canada I know.

Canadians are proud of that spirit. And they trust us to live by it!

My friends, I haven’t told you the half of it. For five years, we have been busy, incredibly busy. You know, I think back, to that night, five years ago today. We – Ben and Rachel, Laureen and myself – were with friends at a hotel in Calgary, watching the results come in. And you know, I can see Ben and Rachel and, boy, they were a lot smaller then.

Anyway, there came a point where, it was clear that we were going to be the next government. And of course, it’s a very humbling, even an intimidating moment. You realize that in some ways, the futures of the kids of every Canadian family are partly in your hands. Some of them voted for our party. Some of them didn’t. But we have a duty to all of them … to protect them, to serve them, to help them pursue their dreams.

So, I said then that Canada’s Conservatives would govern with hope. With hope, and not with fear. I said we would make Canada more united, stronger, more prosperous and safer. And five years later, I can tell you this: We have made Canada more united, stronger, more prosperous, and a safer country! This party, the Conservative Party of Canada, has walked its talk, and it has earned the trust of the Canadian people.

Depuis notre victoire, il y a cinq ans, j’ai eu le privilège de visiter de nombreuses régions de notre grand pays. J’ai rencontré beaucoup de gens exceptionnels. Que se soit à Matane, à Caraquet ou à Sept-Îles.

In these five years, I have travelled continuously right across this country to meet the people who are the foundations of Canada. The truck driver. The bank teller. The pensioner. The salesperson. The farmer, the fisherman. The entrepreneur, the autoworker. The tradesperson and the soldier. The quiet people, who don’t usually make the news, – who don’t make many demands – but who are the ones who keep their families and their communities going. And I am so proud of them.

They are the ones we serve. These people love Canada. They love it deeply. And whoever has the honour to lead them must care about them and must love Canada as much as they do!

My friends, we have a plan, and it is working. Canadians know they have a government that respects their families that helps them in tangible ways, that looks out for their personal security. They know they have a clean government. So what next?

Obviously, we have to stay focussed on jobs, and the economy. If we don’t have a strong economy, we don’t have choices. It’s that simple. We are coming through this worldwide recession, in better condition than just about anyone. But, frankly, Canada’s recovery, Canada’s future, is not locked down. I said before, and I’ll say it again, the global recovery is fragile. What is important now – what is absolutely crucial – is that we do not tamper with the policies that are working. We must carry on doing what we have been doing.

That means saying “no” to raising taxes, taxes that will hurt Canadians’ pocketbooks and make Canadian business uncompetitive. It means winding up stimulus spending and saying “no” to spending more money on new things we can’t afford. And it means saying “yes” to continuing to gradually bring down the deficit.

Et bien sûr, nous continuerons de protéger les Canadiens en mettant les criminels derrière les barreaux.

There is still a lot for Parliament to do. So we’ll also carry on doing whatever it takes to keep our streets and our communities safe. And by the way we haven’t been able to pass everything in a minority Parliament, but that doessn’t mean we’ve forgotten.

One day, there will be an elected Senate, and we will get rid of that wasteful and inefficient registry of long-guns!

My friends, fellow Conservatives, we have travelled a long road to reach this place. And just as I thank Laureen, and Ben and Rachel, for all that they have had to put up with over the years … I thank every one of you, here and from coast to coast to coast, whose dedication and loyalty have been as large as your vision and love of country – you who have paid the price and brought us this far.

Just remember, this is not our destination. This is not our journey’s end. We are not people who, as the poet puts it, “Travel for the sake of trafficking alone.” Truly in our hearts we have a greater purpose. A greater purpose, than to hold power only for the sake of holding power.

Today, we may allow ourselves to pause, to take stock, to look back with satisfaction and perhaps just a little pride. But tomorrow, that’s another day.

Nous devons regarder en avant et continuer de bâtir un pays rempli d’espoir.

It is our purpose, that Canada must be great. It must be great for all Canadians. It must be a country of hope, and an example to the world. Only when it is these things, when Canada is all that it can be, only then can we say that our work is done! I thank all of you for how far you’ve brought us.

Thank you.

God bless Canada!

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