Speech delivered in Ottawa, April 14, 2013.
Check against delivery
April 14, 2013
Thank you, my friends, thank you
Normally I’d start by thanking family and friends for putting up with my absences and allowing me to go off and campaign, but that’s not exactly right. My decision to seek the leadership was never in spite of my responsibility to my family, but because of it. And therefore family and friends were always at the very heart of this campaign. We did this together.
Thank you Sophie.
Thank you Xavier et Ella-Grace.
To my fellow candidates, Joyce, Martha, Karen, Deborah, Martin, David, George and Marc, and to the thousands of Canadians who worked on your campaigns, I want to say: we are not adversaries but allies. Your courage, intelligence and commitment will continue to bring honour to the Liberal Party of Canada.
And for the health of this party, the hard work he has done, I want to thank from the bottom of my heart, my friend, my colleague and a great Canadian Bob Rae. Bob, we continue to need your leadership, your wisdom and your unparalleled commitment to the country and to our party.
This has been a great campaign. We are fiercely proud that it has been fueled by volunteers. More than twelve thousand Canadians stepped up. Thank you for your dedication to making this wonderful country even better.
Like every effective organization, this one has had principled, brilliant, and generous leadership. Katie Telford and Gerald Butts. My friends and compatriots. Thank you for what you’ve done, for what you’re doing and for what we are going to do together. Rob and Jodi, George, Aidan and Ava, thank you for sharing Gerry and Katie with us.
My fellow Liberals, it is with great respect for those who have stood in this place before me, and great resolve to do the hard work required in front of us, that I accept, with humility, the confidence you have placed in me.
Thank you. All of you. For your trust. For your hope. For choosing to be part of this movement we’re building. And on this lovely spring evening in our nation’s capital, I am honored to stand with you, proud to be the Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. Je suis fier d’être le chef du Parti libéral du Canada.
My friends, this is the last stop of this campaign. But the first stop of the next one. Over the past 6 months, I have been to hundreds of communities from coast to coast to coast. I’ve met, talked with, and learned from thousands and thousands of Canadians.
And because of your hard work, more than one hundred thousand voters have sent a clear message: Canadians want better leadership and a better government. Canadians want to be led, not ruled. They are tired of the negative, divisive politics of
Mr. Harper’s Conservatives. And unimpressed that the NDP, under Mr. Mulcair, have decided that if you can’t beat them, you might as well join them.
We are fed up with leaders who pit Canadians against Canadians. West against East, rich against poor, Quebec against the rest of the country, urban against rural.
Canadians are looking to us, my friends. They are giving us a chance, hopeful that the party of Wilfrid Laurier can rediscover its sunny ways.
Hopeful that positive politics has a fighting chance against the steady barrage of negativity that you and I both know is coming soon to TV screens across Canada. The phone messages, our volunteers tell us, have already started.
To adapt a sentiment from the great American President Franklin D. Roosevelt: never before in this country have the forces of negativity, cynicism and fear been so united in their hostility toward one candidate.
The Conservative Party will now do what it does. It will try to spread fear. It will sow cynicism. It will attempt to convince Canadians that we should be satisfied with what we have now.
For at the heart of their unambitious agenda is the idea that “better” is just not possible.
That to hope for something more from our politics and our leaders, more humanity, more transparency, more compassion, is naive and inevitably, will lead to disappointment.
And they will promote that divisive and destructive idea with passionate intensity. They will do so for a simple reason…
They are afraid. But… And I want to make this perfectly clear… My fellow Canadians, it is not my leadership that Mr. Harper and his party fear.
There is nothing that these Conservatives fear more than an engaged and informed Canadian citizen.
My friends, if I have learned one thing in this life, it’s that our country is blessed with countless numbers of activist citizens, from all walks of life, and of all political views. They have come out by the thousands over the course of this campaign.
They’ve gathered by the hundreds in places like Ponoka Alberta and Oliver BC, Prince Albert Saskatchewan and Île-des-Chênes Manitoba. Canadians who thought they were sending community leaders to be their voice in Ottawa, but instead got only Mr. Harper’s voice back in their communities.
We’ve seen their hopeful faces in crowds of Canadians gathered in Windsor and Whitby, Mississauga and Markham. Middle class Canadians who are putting much into the economy and getting too little in return.
We’ve seen hard-working Atlantic Canadians from Edmunston to Halifax, from Summerside to St John’s, who have decided that this is a government that does not share their values.
To my friends in Labrador, I look forward to seeing you very soon.
We’ve met young Aboriginal leaders from all across this country, from Tk’emlups to Whapmagoostui, who are simply tired of being forced to the margins of this country. With the courage to walk 1600 kilometres through a Canadian winter to make the point that they will be Idle no More.
Francophones who live in Shediac, Sudbury, St Boniface and all across this country who want their children to live and thrive in French, your determination inspires me, it must inspire the entire country.
Quebecers, from Gatineau to Gaspé, who want to re-engage with this country. With their country. Who have no time for the divisive issues of their parents’ past, but want to work with Canadians who share their values to build a better country for all our kids.
I want to take a moment to speak directly to my fellow Quebecers. Your engagement and your support in recent months has been deeply moving. I have learned so much from our conversations and our meetings I take nothing for granted. I understand that trust can only be earned. And my plan is to earn yours.
I feel confident about the future. I want to share with you why
Quebecers have always been builders. From Champlain and Laurier to today, they have actively participated in shaping our country, together with so many other Canadians. Our work is not complete. We face enormous challenges
Helping the middle-class make ends meet. Reconciling economic growth and environmental stewardship. Playing a positive and meaningful role in the world.
To rise above these challenges we must demonstrate our audacity and ambition, my friends.
Audacity and ambition, always.
Lets be honest. We will not convince everyone. There will always be skeptics. People who say that our country is too big and too full of differences to be effectively managed, or for everyone to be represented. They are wrong my friends.
I am not claiming that it will always be easy. That there will not be any obstacles along the way. That we will not have to make some compromises.
Canada is a grand, yet unfinished project. And it is up to us, together with all Canadians, to build the country that we want.
The time has come for us to write a new chapter in the history of our country.
Let’s leave to others the old quarrels and old debates that lead nowhere. Let’s leave to others the ultra-partisan rhetoric and the old ways of doing politics. Let’s leave the personal attacks to them.
Quebecers, let us be, together, once again, builders of Canada.
So that our country can match the height of the dreams and ambitions that are shared across this country. So that we can leave our children a better world than the one that we inherited from our parents.
My friends, the Liberal Party will regain the confidence of Canadians when it proves that it is here to serve them. This is the task at hand. This is what will guide me as Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.
To the new generation of Canadians and to all the young people who are not engaged by politics, I have a very simple message for you.
Your country needs you
It needs your energy and your passion
It needs your idealism and your ideas
The movement we are have been building over the past 6 months, it is yours. It belongs to you.
It is the movement with which we will change politics.
It is the movement that will allow us to reform our political institutions, to make reconciling the environment and our economy a real priority, and to play a positive and constructive role in the world.
My fellow Liberals, Canadians are looking to us. This campaign has been their campaign, more than just ours.
They want something better. They refuse to believe that better is not possible. They see the country their parents and grandparents worked so hard to build, and want to hand an even better country to their children.
Canadians share deep values that cannot be shaken, no matter how hard the Conservative Party may try. Optimism. Openness. Compassion. Service to community.
Generosity of spirit.
We want to believe that change can happen. We want leadership that will shape our best instincts into an even better country.
But Canadians will not suffer fools gladly. Canadians turned away from us because we turned away from them. Because Liberals became more focused on fighting with each other, than fighting for Canadians.
Well, I don’t care if you thought my father was a great or arrogant. It doesn’t matter to me if you were a Chretien-Liberal, a Turner-Liberal, a Martin-Liberal or any other kind of Liberal. The era of hyphenated Liberals ends right here, tonight.
From this day forward, we welcome all Liberals as Canadian Liberals. United in our dedication to serve and lead Canadians.
Unity not just for unity’s sake, but unity of purpose.
I say this to the millions of middle-class Canadians, and the millions more who work hard every day to join the middle-class…
Under my leadership, the purpose of the Liberal Party of Canada will be you. I promise that I will begin, spend and end every day thinking about and working hard to solve your problems.
I know that you are optimistic about us, but cautiously so. You are, after all, Canadians. You know that hope is a fine thing, but that without an equal measure of hard work to back it up, it will be fleeting.
So I know that you will judge us by the tenacity of our work ethic, the integrity of our efforts, and, come 2015, the clarity of our plan to make our country better. That is as it should be.
I know how lucky I have been in my life. Lucky, most of all, to have learned so much from so many Canadians. To learn that, above all else in this country, leadership means service.
I love this country, my friends, and I believe in it deeply. It deserves better leadership than it has now.
So let us be clear-eyed about what we have accomplished. We have worked hard and we have had a great campaign. We are united, hopeful and resolute in our purpose.
But know this: we have won nothing more and nothing less than the opportunity to work even harder. Work even harder to prove ourselves worthy of leading this great country.
We should be deeply, deeply grateful for that opportunity. As your leader, I fully intend to make sure we make the most of it.Change can happen. Canadians want leadership that will work with them to make it happen.
Be hopeful my fellow Liberals. Work hard. Stay focused on Canadians. We can lead the change so many people want.
A better Canada is always possible.
Together, we will build it.
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