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Joined: 02 Sep 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2007 12:46 am    Post subject: Dion's speech to the Canadian Club of Ottawa - March 9th '07 Reply with quote


As Prime Minister, I would govern for the long term. I would adopt policies because they are right for Canada, not just the Canada of today, but also the Canada of our children and grandchildren.

That’s why I am so determined to address global warming: because failure to do so would harm my generation, and be catastrophic for future generations. The same logic drives me to adopt policies leading to a stronger, more competitive Canadian economy: such policies will help our economy today, and they will be absolutely essential for the economy we pass on to our children.

It’s fitting that I would talk about my economic vision for Canada at the Canadian Club of Ottawa, and I want to thank you for this opportunity. With a history that goes back more than a century, I’m sure the Canadian Club appreciates the importance of taking the long view – seeking to provide, as you put it, a window on the Canada of today and tomorrow.

Speaking of the long-term, I should point out that today is International Women’s Day.
And this is an ideal occasion to highlight the importance of Canadian women in the economy and in business, and their long-term struggle to realize their full potential.

Women are coming closer to assuming their rightful prominence in the global marketplace – as workers, consumers, entrepreneurs, managers and investors. But as The Economist magazine noted last year, “Women remain perhaps the world’s most underutilized resource.”

In Canada, women still earn, on average, just 71 cents for every dollar earned by men doing the same job. For the cause of fairness, and also the prosperity of our country, the Canadian government must actively work at removing the obstacles that women face. This means progressive policies like extending parental leave benefits to a full year for men and women, as the Liberal Government did a few years ago, and a national plan for early childhood learning.

Unfortunately, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is headed in the opposite direction. By canceling the early childhood learning program, and by cutting funding to Status of Women Canada, he has taken us in the wrong direction.

In short, when it comes to furthering the cause of equality for women in Canada, 2006 was a wasted year. As Prime Minister I will stand up for women’s rights, beginning with my commitment to ensure that one-third of Liberal candidates in the next election are women, as well as my commitment to appoint a greater number of women to my cabinet. The fight for equality should start at the heart of government, and I will ensure that it does.

1. A Wasted Year

For Canada as a whole, 2006 was a wasted year in other ways. The Prime Minister has taken money from crucial long-term priorities – a healthy planet and a strong economy – and used that money for short-term gratification.

In its most recent Kyoto report card, the Sierra Club found that 2006 has been a wasted year in Canada’s fight against global warming, thanks to the Conservative government’s cancellation of Canada’s climate change plan, Project Green. The Sierra Club concludes that, in the eyes of the world, Canada has gone from hero to zero in the fight against climate change.

Less obviously, but just as dangerously, this Prime Minister wasted a year in another sense: by undermining the foundations of a strong Canadian economy and jobs for tomorrow. He has cut funding for research, postsecondary education and international trade, and he has increased income tax. He has used this money to pay for an election-oriented, economically unproductive GST cut.

While other countries are forging ahead to strengthen their economies, Mr. Harper is taking Canada in the wrong direction. He hasn’t just wasted a year. He’s made things worse.

Let me respond to those who think competitiveness concerns are overblown because the economy is doing just fine. Anybody who feels that way should talk to one of the thousands of Canadians losing their jobs in the manufacturing sector, as factories shut down and jobs move overseas.

It is certainly true that Canada’s unemployment rate is at historic lows, and some parts of the country are booming, even if others are not. That well-being is largely the result of Canadians’ hard work, helped along by strong Liberal fiscal and monetary policies. But we’re also enjoying the results of a decade of recession-free global economic expansion, and strong world prices for some of our key natural resources.

And beneath the surface, the Canadian economy still faces significant challenges.

Our productivity growth – the main driver of living standards – is sagging.
Compared with other countries, our presence in fast-growing markets like China and India is weak.
We do worse than the Americans in commercializing our research, protecting that research through intellectual property laws, and getting ideas from the lab to the market.

Good economic leaders plan ahead, anticipating emerging economic challenges and making the right investments when times are good. That’s why the previous Liberal government, after eliminating the $42-billion deficit left by the last Conservative government, invested in the competitiveness agenda, notably the research agenda. We laid the groundwork for our success today. By the same measure, investment in the future competitiveness of this country would be the economic centerpiece of a Dion government.

2. A Competitiveness Agenda

The world does not owe Canada a living. Ask yourself this question: Faced with emerging super-economies like India and China, how can a small country like Canada maintain its economic edge? Only by setting an economic policy that takes the long view, and focuses squarely on increasing our competitiveness.

Canada has the resources and skills to take on the world. But we need to ensure we have the best trained and educated people at home. We need to integrate new Canadians into our economy better and faster. We need personal and business taxes that are competitive with the world. We need stronger trade and investment relations within NAFTA and also with countries outside North America. We need physical and intellectual infrastructure that is second to none. And we need a first-rate capacity not only for research and the creation of new ideas, but also for taking those ideas from the lab to the market.

Canada’s economy needs three things above all else: competitive taxes, aggressive international trade, and a massive commitment to innovation and education.

2.1 Competitive taxation

Taxes have a powerful impact on people’s behaviour. If you cut the GST, you encourage consumption. On the other hand, if you cut income tax, you encourage Canadians to save and invest, increasing our productivity. That’s why the Liberal government cut taxes by $100 billion in 2000, a measure I strongly supported.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, we have this Conservative Government, willing to squander $12 billion per year, $60 billion over 5 years, on an unproductive 2-point cut to the GST. There is scarcely an economist on the planet who supports this approach. From the IMF to the OECD, from the Fraser Institute to the government’s own Finance Department – all have clearly said that lower income tax, not lower GST, is the right way to go.

Even worse, the government actually raised income tax to pay for part of its first GST cut. Not only that, but they raised the income tax payable at the lowest level of income, a move that was both unfair and unproductive.

As Prime Minister, I would not cut a second point from the GST. Instead, I would help grow the economy, by ensuring that income taxes are low and that taxes on business and investment are competitive. I would enhance Capital Cost Allowance rates consistently to encourage businesses to continually re-invest in modern machinery and equipment. I would reward gains in energy efficiency by sound environmental tax incentives. And I would use the tax system to help every Canadian benefit, through measures like the Working Income Tax Benefit, helping low-income Canadians get jobs and climb over the welfare wall.

When it comes to tax policy, we haven’t just wasted a year. Under Stephen Harper, we’ve moved in the wrong direction.

2.2 International trade

The United States will always be Canada’s largest trading partner, and our vital relationship must be strengthened. Nevertheless, as the relative weight of North America in the global economy diminishes, Canada must diversify its trade and investment beyond North America.

As emerging markets like China and India continue to grow, Canada needs to aggressively increase our export markets and investment ties with those regions of the world.

Stephen Harper does not subscribe to this philosophy.

He cancelled the previous government’s $485-million strategy to help up to 5,000 Canadian firms, mostly small and medium-sized enterprises, get better access to priority markets like China and India. Can you believe that not a single minister has been to India since the Conservatives took office?

At the end of this month, the Conservative government will close Canadian consulates in Milan, St. Petersburg, Osaka, and Fukuoka – leading to lost business opportunities, investments, jobs and exports for Canadian companies.

And under Mr. Harper, the pacific gateway project, a crucial new infrastructure and port project to speed Canada’s access to the Asian market, will take three years longer than the Liberals had planned, due to Conservative funding cuts.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world is not standing still. Asia-Pacific countries have no less than 186 bilateral free trade agreements in force or in negotiation.

This Prime Minister hasn’t just wasted a year. As with taxation, he’s moving in the wrong direction, while our competitors are moving forward.

A Dion government would put us back on course – working to improve our trade relationship with the United States, while broadening our access to new and emerging trading partners around the world.

2.3 From the lab to the market

Finally, on research and innovation, we must build on the Chrétien-Martin legacy with policies that help bring ideas from the lab to the market. As a result of that legacy, Canada is ranked first in the G8 for publicly performed research and development. The previous Liberal government was determined to build on that success.

Stephen Harper has taken us in the opposite direction. On R&D spending, we’ve seen new funding cut by more than 70 per cent - from $1.8 billion to just $500 million. Research granting councils, the heart and soul of Canada’s innovation, were counting on increases of $425 million over the next five years. Under this Conservative government, they’ll have to live with just $40 million a year.

As a result, these councils are running out of money for new projects. At the same time, the Conservatives failed to renew funding for Technology Partnerships Canada, which provided more than $300 million annually to help companies undertake R&D. Finally, the Conservatives cut funding for the indirect costs of research at postsecondary institutions from $1.2 billion over two years to just $80 million over two years.

What other G8 country is cutting new R&D spending by 70 per cent? The UK has an ambitious plan to reach 2.5 per cent of GDP by 2014. The European Union is aiming to increase R&D to 3 per cent of GDP by 2010.

Meanwhile, Canada is stalled at less than two per cent. Under Stephen Harper, we’re falling behind.

The next step in the Liberal strategy was focused on commercialization: bringing ideas from the lab to the market, in all sectors of the economy. We lag behind the US in helping companies capitalize on new research and ideas. Here again, Conservative cuts have taken the place of a strategy for success.

On postsecondary education, the Prime Minister cut $3.1 billion over five years from new investments in students’ financial assistance, graduate scholarships and international study. In its place, he offered a tax credit on textbooks, to a maximum of $80 per year per student, and other small-ticket items. The end result: new federal support for post-secondary education has fallen by an incredible 70 per cent.

On skills training, the Liberal Government created, in partnership with the provinces, the Labour Market Partnership Agreements, worth $3.5 billion over the next 5 years, to enhance skills development for the workplace. The Conservative Government cancelled these agreements. What other G8 country is cutting funding for skills and training – the key to helping its people find jobs?

The bottom line is this: under Stephen Harper, we’re investing far less in Canada’s most important resource – our people.

Canada cannot afford to sit still. Yet while the rest of the world sets ambitious targets and commits major resources, the Harper government offers nothing but cuts.


Canada has the skills and resources to be an economic leader. But in three areas that are key to our economic future – competitive taxes, international trade, and research and education – the Prime Minister has been moving Canada in the wrong direction, while the rest of the world has been aggressively forging ahead.

A Prime Minister should understand that economic policy is about planning for the long-term. He should understand that the cuts he has put in place reduce our productivity. He should understand the crucial roles of international trade and investment, research, and commercialization.

I called on the Prime Minister to fight climate change – and coincidentally, Mr. Harper partially restored some of the Liberal programs he had cut. I called on the Prime Minister to address urban transit – and coincidentally, earlier this week Mr. Harper used for the benefit of Toronto, part the money put aside by the liberals...

I might just be the most influential Leader of the Opposition in a generation. So let me try again. I call on the Prime Minister to recreate the competitiveness agenda for Canada in the next budget.

But replacing Liberal programs with pale imitations is no substitute for responsible, long-term planning that a Dion government would provide. Canada's future success -- economic as well as environmental -- calls for a comprehensive strategy, not a sudden, last minute attempt to prepare for an election.

I believe Canadians will see past Stephen Harper’s short-term approach.

I believe Canadian taxpayers would rather take more money home on their paycheck than save a penny when they buy a cup of coffee.

I believe Canadian businesses would rather find new customers in China than watch Mr. Harper close consulates and cancel trade missions.

I believe Canadian researchers would rather develop the next Blackberry here in Ontario than watch it happen in Europe or the US.

And I believe Canadians everywhere would rather their government secure our prosperity for the future than spend it today on instant gratification and gimmicks.

For the sake of our economic future, it’s time to get back on course. As Prime Minister, I would govern for the next generation, not just for the next election. For a healthy planet, for social justice, for a strong economy, and for good jobs – for ourselves, our children, and the next generation.

Thank you.

Joined: 22 Feb 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2007 11:02 am    Post subject: Re: Dion's speech to the Canadian Club of Ottawa - March 9th Reply with quote

Stephen wrote:

As Prime Minister...

You know he's not a good leader when he lies in the first line of his speech...Well...that makes him a typical Liberal Party Leader!


Joined: 02 Sep 2006
Posts: 645
Reputation: 72.9
votes: 5
Location: Ontario

PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2007 11:19 am    Post subject: Re: Dion's speech to the Canadian Club of Ottawa - March 9th Reply with quote

cerl7011 wrote:
Stephen wrote:

As Prime Minister...

You know he's not a good leader when he lies in the first line of his speech...Well...that makes him a typical Liberal Party Leader!


C'mon erl... he's just trying to win that scholarship from Magna!

Joined: 05 Sep 2006
Posts: 369
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Location: Soviet Pictouwestistan

PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2007 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Or trying to get on that CBC show
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Dion's speech to the Canadian Club of Ottawa - March 9th '07

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