Harper calls for majority government
Trumpets economy, crime policy in speech
Wednesday, Oct 13, 2010 06:00 am
Canadians need a majority Conservative government to avoid scuttling their economic recovery, says the prime minister.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper dropped by Edmonton last week to read to kids, hand out cash and rally party supporters.
After announcing a $1.95-million grant to the Alberta Centre for Advanced Microsystems and Nanotechnology Products, Harper joined local member of Parliament Brent Rathgeber to read to students at Kensington Elementary School.
He closed the day with a stump speech before about 1,000 cheering Conservative supporters at the Delta Edmonton South hotel.
The Bloc Québécois, Liberals and NDP are already acting as a coalition, he said, and would bring in new taxes and spending programs if elected, threatening Canada’s recovery.
“When the next election comes,” Harper said, speaking before a large Canadian flag, “the entire future of our country is at stake, and we have to work harder than we ever have before to make sure we elect a stable majority Conservative government.”
Don’t rest on laurels, says PM
Harper said his government’s program of tax cuts and short-term capital spending had created about 425,000 net jobs since the recession. The country was on track to cut its deficit in half next year, and would have its budget balanced years before the rest of the world.
“Yes we are running a deficit … but our deficit and our debt burden are by a magnitude of two-fold the lowest amongst the major developed economies.”
But the rest of the world, especially the U.S., is still struggling with high unemployment and debt loads, Harper said. “We cannot rest on our laurels.”
The opposition coalition wants to create massive new permanent entitlement programs, he said, as well as a carbon tax. “When I listen to the opposition I think they’re trying to figure out ways to turn gold into lead.” He opposed both measures, vowing to keep taxes low and avoid structural deficits.
Harper criticized his opponents for delaying the passage of many crime bills, including ones meant to restrict house arrest and establish minimum sentences for violent repeat offenders. “Canadians want a justice system where the highest priority is not the rights of the criminal, but the protection of law-abiding citizens.”
There’s no doubt that those bills would result in more people in jail if they were passed, said Rathgeber in an interview, which is one reason why the government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars this year to build more jail cells. “We’re going to continue to stimulate the economy in part by building prisons.”
The Conservatives have also announced other major spending in recent months, such as a $16-billion plan to buy new F-35 jet fighters. “We are finally giving the Canadian Forces the equipment they need and expect,” Harper said, in reference to that purchase.
Rathgeber seemed confident that his party would meet its debt-reduction goals despite such big-ticket items. “I don’t think we’re in any risk of entering a structural deficit as long as our expenditures are on capital projects.” The jet deal in particular should also net local aerospace firms billions in spinoff business, he added.