Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Neo-Conservatives Fail To Find Cadbury Secret
They also haven't stopped global warming in one year. On the other hand, despite Emerson and the Income Trust Lie (sorry, fellow BT'ers, but that one kinda gets me only because it was a lie) the Conservative Party of Canada has done a remarkable job holding down the fort. Let's take a look (at the PM's speech today): Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you very much for your warm welcome, and thank you Carole Chouinard for that kind introduction.Exactly one year ago today, I and the 26 other men and women in my Cabinet were sworn in as Canada’s New Government.Perhaps it was the excitement of the day, or the scope of the challenge before us, but I didn’t sleep much that night.Well, here we are 12 months later, and I have to say – I’m sleeping better these days!Because we have achieved a lot of things over the past year that have benefited Canadians - we can take pride in the fact that we have kept our word and delivered the goods.We started rebuilding public trust in the national government with the Federal Accountability Act.We focussed spending, made a huge payment on the national debt and passed a budget that provided 20 billion dollars in tax relief.We have provided real, tangible tax benefits and tax breaks for hard-working middle-class families and senior citizens, many of which are just starting to kick in.We offered choice in childcare to the people who know what’s best for kids – their mothers and fathers – with the universal child care benefit.We introduced legislation to reverse the criminals’ rights juggernaut and keep dangerous, violent offenders off our streets.We started the long-overdue task of rebuilding the Canadian Forces and we began to restore Canada’s role as a principled leader on the world stage.We have taken the first steps to reduce patient wait times, and we began laying out a comprehensive, realistic plan to protect and improve our precious environment.In short, we have honoured our commitments to Canadians.But there is more to leadership than making and keeping promises.It is also about responding to events and doing the right thing when you have to.As we did on income trusts, the evolving situation in Afghanistan, and our motion recognizing the Québécoises and Québécois as a nation within a united Canada. Everything we do is rooted in the values and aspirations of Canadians.Everything we do is designed to deliver practical, tangible benefits to Canadians.And everything we do serves our ultimate goal: a stronger, safer, better Canada.A Canada that serves the interests of all who call it home.Today I want to give you a detailed overview of where our government hopes to move forward on during the winter and spring year that lies ahead.First, on a stronger Canada.To meet the challenges of the 21st century, Canada must be strengthened in four key areas. We must have: stronger democratic institutions. a stronger federation. a stronger economy, and a stronger role in the world.Canada’s commitment to democracy is the wellspring of our success as a country. But Canadians’ faith in our democracy has been shaken by the political scandals of recent years.Public apathy and cynicism should recede along with the memory of those scandals, and I feel that the Federal Accountability Act has already gone a long way toward restoring public trust in Canada’s government. But we must do more, and there’s no better place to start than with our antiquated Senate.We must modernize the Upper House by finally setting fixed terms for Senators, and we should democratize it, by passing our Senate Elections Bill, so Canadians will finally have a say in who represents them in the Red Chamber. Democratizing the Senate is simply part of our plan to strengthen the federation.In the late 20th century, a succession of federal governments dramatically expanded Ottawa’s fiscal and jurisdictional reach. This imposed dangerous strains on national unity and weakened our country. We have adopted a more open style of federalism. And it was in the spirit of this open federalism, for example, that we invited Quebec to participate fully in the UNESCO proceedings.In our upcoming budget, we will finally take action to restore fiscal balance in Canada, so the provinces and territories have the resources they need to meet their obligations to Canadians.The budget will put fiscal relations between governments back on a principled basis by providing long-term, predictable, federal transfers and support.We’ll respect their jurisdictions, focus on core federal responsibilities, and ensure federal programs treat Canadians fairly regardless where they live. But the strength of a country depends not only on the strength of its political institutions and arrangements: a strong economy is also essential.Last November, Finance Minister Flaherty unveiled a plan to make our economy stronger and more competitive. Called advantage Canada, the plan will constrain the growth of government, while giving individuals and businesses the freedom they need to flourish in today’s economy.At the core of this plan is our commitment to continue cutting taxes, controlling spending and paying down debt.Let me be clear that, with the budget, we will undertake historic action on this front.Specifically, in the next budget we will also put into law our “tax back guarantee”. In the future, as the federal government pays down our national debt, it will be required to use the interest savings to cut personal taxes. But a stronger economy won’t be built on tax cuts alone.The international investment community already recognizes Canada as a storehouse of vital resources and an emerging energy superpower.We will be making targeted investments in other key areas of our economy: to help make Canada a world leader in research and development; to equip Canadians with the post-secondary education and training they need to succeed; and, to build modern infrastructure and transportation gateways.Let me just say a word on the importance the government attaches to this. With additional investments our government will be embarking on Canada’s longest period of guaranteed infrastructure and gateway commitments in over a half century.We will also continue to defend the interests of Canadian agriculture and forestry, and work with producers to achieve long-term competitiveness and sustainability.Farmers can look forward to additional measures in the development of the government’s new income support programs, particularly in dealing with the issue of cost of production.We will eliminate the red tape plaguing businesses, cut back on pointless regulations and stimulate competition in the Canadian market.And we will undertake new strategies to encourage foreign investment and help Canadian entrepreneurs and products gain better access to markets around the world.The fourth element of our strategy for a stronger Canada is the restoration of an assertive foreign policy that serves Canadian values and interests.The escalation of regional conflicts and terrorism in the 1990s, culminating with the 9-11 attacks in New York and Washington, awoke Canadians and the world to new dangers.Canada needs a stronger military and a stronger role in the world to protect our people at home and our interests abroad.That’s why we’re going to continue rebuilding the Canadian Forces, continue the fight against the Taliban, and continue our reconstruction efforts for the people of Afghanistan.In the coming weeks we will table a report in Parliament summarizing the progress and challenges of our mission, and we will be making a significant announcement about the next steps we will be taking in that war-ravaged country.In Afghanistan and elsewhere, we will continue working with the United Nations and our allies to strengthen international stability and security, and we will continue speaking clearly and openly on the international scene to uphold the fundamental values of the Canadian people and of all civilized peoples: freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.We have also started restoring healthy relations with the United States.Our goal is a relationship based on mutual respect.We have our interests. So do the Americans. Usually they coincide. But sometimes they conflict. One of my predecessors likened Canada’s relationship with the US to a mouse sleeping with an elephant.I always felt that comparison sold Canada short.A more fitting metaphor might involve a grizzly bear and a wolverine. We may be smaller, but we’re no less fierce about protecting our territory.Our new approach has been paying off.We finally achieved a softwood lumber agreement that returned over $5 billion to Canadian producers and ended a costly trade dispute that threatened a vital sector of our economy.On a whole range of issues, I think officially Washington now has a much clearer picture of what Canada wants and stands for.But our neighbourhood doesn’t end at the 49th parallel – and neither do our interests. That’s why we will seek to re-engage relationships throughout the Americas, with our partners in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.Canadians no longer have to apologize for their government. As a result, we are all looking better these days on the international scene and playing a true leadership role. And we’ll continue playing a stronger role in international affairs and making a positive difference in the lives of impoverished and oppressed people around the world. In many ways, making Canada stronger will serve our second major goal, which is to make Canada safer.When I was a boy growing up in Toronto, safe streets and safe neighbourhoods for our children were a given. Canada was known far and wide as the peaceable kingdom; crime rarely touched the lives of most people.But, sadly, this has been changing.In recent years, for example, the homicide rate – often associated with gangs, guns and drugs – has spiked upwards.To make Canada safer, our government has introduced legislation to get violent, dangerous criminals off our streets.We want people who commit serious crime to do serious time. We want to crack down on sexual predators, street racers, impaired drivers, and those who use guns to commit crimes.We’ve given the police more tools and more resources to combat crime and we’re moving to arm Canada’s border guards.We’ve taken a lead role in the international fight against money laundering by organized crime and terrorist groups.And we’ve started working with community groups in Canadian cities to help prevent crime and help young people find positive alternatives to crime and drugs. In the months ahead we will continue building a safer Canada by providing more support for victims of crime.But we will also be pressing parliamentarians to take their responsibilities to tackle crime seriously.During last year’s election campaign the opposition parties claimed to support mandatory prison sentences for gun crimes, reverse onus on bail applications involving gun crime, and a crackdown on violent, dangerous offenders.So did we. That’s why we brought in legislation on all three.The public supports us. Police and public officials – including people as philosophically distant from us as the Premier of Ontario and the Mayor of Toronto – also back these reforms. Yet the bills are still stuck in Parliament, bogged down by opposition obstructionism. Mark my words, if an election does come before these bills pass, the opposition will have a lot of explaining to do.Making Canada stronger and safer will lead us to our third major goal, a better Canada.We have already taken action to improve public health with initiatives like our new Canadian partnership against cancer, support for the Rick Hansen Foundation for Spinal Cord Injury Research, and new measures on patient wait times, especially for children and Aboriginals.More actions, particularly on patient wait times, will be announced in the months to come.We will also move forward with new legislation, the Canadians with Disabilities Act, and on the creation of child care spaces. But Canadians have made it clear they want us to put one task ahead of all others: protecting and improving our environment.Ladies and Gentlemen, the fundamental challenge of our time is to make real progress on environmental protection while preserving jobs and standards of living.Finding that balance will require sound science, rational debate and political will. Our government understands that global warming is a serious threat to the health and well-being of Canadians.The just-released report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has sounded the alarm yet again. Rising levels of greenhouses gases in the atmosphere are projected to exacerbate climate changes that could be devastating for many parts of our planet.My children, your children and all children deserve to grow up in a world where they have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. They deserve well-tended land that will sustain healthy crops and livestock.And they deserve large tracts of unspoiled wilderness, sanctuaries that not only preserve our precious flora and fauna, but also provide opportunities for increasingly urbanized human beings to connect with the natural world. But in order to bequeath this future to our children, we have to have a realistic plan, not just empty rhetoric.Our government supports a concerted global effort to deal with climate change – and such an effort must include the major emitters, including the United States and China.But we cannot ask others to act unless we are prepared to start at home, with real action on greenhouse gases and air pollution. After more than a decade of inaction on air quality and greenhouse gasses, Canada has one of the worst records in the developed world.The previous government committed to ambitious greenhouse gas targets, and then presided over a 27% increase.The result is increased smog in our cities and rising rates of asthma and other ailments.That is why our government is charting a dynamic new path. Our program to regulate air quality represents a radical departure from the missed opportunities of past years.In the weeks ahead, for the first time ever, Canada’s New Government will move to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from major industrial sectors.For the first time ever, we will also move to regulate air pollution from major industry sectors.For the first time ever, we will regulate the fuel efficiency of motor vehicles, beginning with the 2011 model year.And for the first time ever, we will set out enforceable regulatory targets for the short, medium and long term. The era of voluntary compliance is over.In our environmental plan, Canadians will also see our new eco-energy programs that support energy efficiency and stimulate the production of renewable power.They will see regulations mandating greater use of ethanol and other green fuels. They will see measures to make energy efficient vehicles more affordable.They will see better protection from hazardous chemicals through our new Chemicals Management Plan. And they will see support for wilderness preservation initiatives such as B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest conservation project.Budget 2006 allowed the banking of environmentally sensitive land tax free, and we will be following this in the next few weeks with major conservation initiatives that harness the private sector.In a nutshell, Canadians will enjoy a cleaner, greener and healthier country – a better Canada. As we roll out our agenda over the next few months, Canadians will see that Canada’s New Government represents a fundamental break with the kind of government they’ve known for most of the last half century.They will recognize that they have clear choices to make on the most important issues facing our country.A clear choice to make between decisive action that is building a stronger economy, a cleaner government and a record of results, and going back to drift, scandal and empty rhetoric.A clear choice between a foreign policy that actively stands up for our national interests and values, versus a “soft power” approach that relegates Canada to the sidelines of the international arena.A clear choice between a country where Ottawa practises open federalism, where the roles and responsibilities of the various levels of government are logically defined and respectfully applied, and a country where Ottawa practises a centralist brand of federalism, where Ottawa and the provinces are constantly at loggerheads over questions of money and power.A clear choice between a country where individuals are free to make the best of their choices and the most of their opportunities, versus a country where the State presumes to know best how to spend your money and raise your family.A clear choice between a country that values safe streets and safe communities, versus a country where the streets are ruled by guns, gangs and drugs. And a clear choice between a country that takes practical, realistic action to protect the environment, versus a country that sets unrealistic targets and then does absolutely nothing to achieve them.As these choices become ever clearer to Canadians, I believe they will choose to continue building a stronger, safer and better Canada for all of us.Thank you.And I look forward to seeing you again soon. Not to damn shabby, and if you've read this far, it's because you ARE asking me.