Justin Trudeau’s speech to the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal

We are building an outstanding team that will be a force for change. And it starts here, in Montreal.

February 27, 2015

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Mr. Leblanc, Mayor Coderre, distinguished head table guests, ladies and gentlemen:

Thank you for being here and for your warm welcome.

It is a great pleasure once again to meet the business community of Montreal.

Being a Montrealer, I am very proud to be a Member of Parliament for a Montreal riding. For me, the title of Member of Parliament for Papineau is priceless, because it is by staying connected to, and grounded in, the reality of the residents of Papineau that I can understand the issues of all Canadians.

We have a plan to get Canada back on its feet, to renew the fundamentals of our economy, to diversify our drivers of growth—and Montreal is a good example of all the potential that we want to unlock.

Denis, it is a pleasure to see you again. I look forward to working with you again and supporting all the work you are doing to serve Montreal.

In you, Montreal has a found a straight-talking mayor and an indispensable leader. We will work together to ensure the success of the 375th anniversary of Montreal, which will coincide with the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation. We will work together for Montreal and for our country. As well, as a case in point, I applaud you for the action you took yesterday regarding Canada Post, with which we fully agree.

The Liberal Party wants Canada to once again be a positive force internationally and to accurately reflect the ambitions and hopes of its people.

We are now a few months from an election of utmost importance to Canada.

I am very proud of the Liberal team that is running in this election.

Many of our candidates are here with us, having come from across Quebec, and I would like to take a few moments to introduce our Members of Parliament and candidates to you.

I would ask them to please stand as I name them and to remain standing.

  • Marc Garneau, MP and candidate for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce–Westmount;
  • Emmanuel Dubourg, MP and candidate for Bourassa;
  • Francis Scarpaleggia, MP and candidate for Lac-Saint-Louis;
  • Pablo Rodriguez, candidate for Honoré-Mercier and co-chair of the Quebec campaign, along with Marie Tremblay, who is here also;
  • Marwah Rizqy, candidate for Hochelaga;
  • Christine Poirier, candidate for Laurier–Sainte-Marie;
  • Nadine Médawar, for Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie;
  • Frank Baylis, for Pierrefonds–Dollard;
  • Marc Miller, for Ville-Marie–Le Sud-Ouest–Îles-des-Sœurs, that is, this riding;
  • Karl Trudel, for Mirabel;
  • Janice Bélair, for Rivière-du-Nord;
  • Angelo Iacono, for Alfred-Pellan;
  • Alexandra Mendes, for Brossard–Saint-Lambert;
  • Brenda Shanahan, for Châteauguay–Lacolle;
  • Jean-Claude Poissant, for La Prairie; and
  • Karine Desjardins, for Beloeil–Chambly.
  • Rachel Bendayan, for Outremont
  • Anju Dhillon, for Dorval–Lachine–LaSalle
  • David Lametti, for LaSalle–Émard–Verdun

And outside the Greater Montreal area:

  • Adam Veilleux;
  • Antoine Bujold;
  • Claude Boucher;
  • Youri Rousseau;
  • David Gauvin; and
  • François-Philippe Champagne.
  • Marc Desmarais

I would also like to acknowledge a few of our aspiring candidates:

  • Jean-Yves Duclos, for Québec;
  • Michelle Audette, for Manicouagan; and
  • Mélanie Joly, for Ahuntsic–Cartierville.

Thank you, my friends, for being here and for your commitment to your fellow citizens.

You know, nomination meetings are being held throughout the Greater Montreal area, and across Quebec and Canada. The candidates are numerous. Their talent and expertise is impressive.

We are building a powerful force for change.

Because we have to change things.

Canada is going in the wrong direction. The oil boom over the last few years has masked serious structural problems: the wages of the middle class have been stagnant; the unemployment rate among young people is too high; social mobility is limited.

The Liberal Party of Canada has set one main priority: to give Canada a new economic policy.

The premise will be simple: Canada’s prosperity starts with the prosperity of its middle class.

Canada, a land of opportunity, a land of equal opportunity, has become inequitable under Mr. Harper and, in spite of his failures, Mr. Harper is incapable of correcting the situation, because he is locked in an old, antiquated approach.

Something is not working here. In the 30 years from 1981 to 2011 the Canadian economy grew 115 percent, but the average family income grew only 15 percent.

Where did all the wealth go? To the wealthiest one percent, whose income doubled, and to the wealthiest O.1 percent, whose income quintupled.

Although the incomes of the remaining families stagnated, their debts skyrocketed. Canadian consumers today have an average debt of more than $27,000, excluding mortgage loans.

Therefore, we have a middle class struggling to make ends meet, whose labour and talent benefit mainly the wealthy.

We will give back to Radio-Canada the means to proudly undertake its unique mission to provide information and reflect Canadian diversity.

We will fight this income inequality, because it has harmful effects. It is a source of social tension; it is stopping millions of Canadians from achieving their ambitions.

All Canadians must realize their full potential to stimulate the economy across Canada. A prosperous middle class means a prosperous country.

And the middle class needs help while the economy needs growth. Today’s world is full of challenges, but there are also tremendous opportunities with the opening of new markets, the growth of developing countries, new technologies and sustainable development.
Our economic policy will focus on increasing middle class incomes and generating long-term growth in promising areas.
We will give the middle class the financial levers, tax instruments and infrastructure required so that our fellow citizens may realize their potential, flourish, and make their success the success of their family and their country.

We will form a government that helps Canadians succeed.

We are building a program that will reposition Canada’s economic action to speed up our march to prosperity and tailor it to the realities of today’s world.

This repositioning is necessary because the Conservatives have failed.

Today Canadians are watching Stephen Harper’s economic vision collapse.

Mr. Harper bet everything on the price of oil, but now that the price has fallen, what do we see?

We see:

  • a panicked government postponing its budget;
  • the Bank of Canada being forced to lower its key interest rate;
  • Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador announcing deficits; and
  • the barely achieved federal fiscal balance being jeopardized.

The failure of the Conservatives is extensive.

We live in a complex world, but have a one-dimensional government, a government that does not understand today’s world, and that does not know how to govern in the best interests of the country in the long-term.

The world is changing, but Mr. Harper is stuck in the past.

Mr. Harper has been in office for nine years, and the numbers speak for themselves: this prime minister has the worst track record for economic growth of all prime ministers since R. B. Bennett, in the 1930s, during the Great Depression.

Under Mr. Harper, Canada’s economy has stagnated and inequality has increased, both among people and among provinces.

In the last few years, only those in the oil-producing provinces have seen increases in their income, people in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Here in Quebec, as in Ontario and Manitoba, in the Maritimes and in British Columbia, there has been almost no increase in income during the Harper decade.

In fact, Canada under Mr. Harper is a two-tiered Canada: the “oil and gas” Canada that is moving ahead, and the “other” Canada that is spinning its wheels. But now the oil and gas Canada is sliding backward.

Now, faced with an economy that presents such troubling signs, what is Mr. Harper’s priority?

He announces with great fanfare that he will put money in the pockets of the rich. He announces his income splitting policy. A net expenditure of more than $2 billion that will benefit the rich and be financed by the middle class.

One cannot choose between the economy and the environment; the two are inseparable.

Look at the inconsistency: in a time of slow growth, the government is putting money into the hands of the rich. There is zero stimulus. To stimulate the economy, money has to be placed in the hands of those who need it, and who will hasten to spend it for the benefit of their families.

That is exactly the approach that the Liberal Party of Canada is proposing today. Rather than giving discounts to those who need it least, we will put money in the right place, that is, in the pockets of the middle class, and we will invest in long-term wealth creation.

Our new strategic economic policy will make Canada successful in a modern, complex world. In five points:

  • We will invest in infrastructure, the backbone of the economy;
  • We will help Canadians who wish to pursue post-secondary studies, because they are at the heart of our future;
  • We will help Canadian businesses export Canadian goods, know-how and creativity worldwide;
  • We will support entrepreneurship that stirs the ambition of Canadians, and we will create an investment-friendly environment; and
  • We will invest in scientific research and the knowledge-based economy, because that is where the future is born.

I will go over each point.

First: A Liberal government will invest in infrastructure. In addition to significant new direct investments, it will put in place innovative means to fund large infrastructure projects that are essential for our long-term economic growth.

Specifically, we will focus on public transit, because there needs to be an effective alternative to driving alone, on increasing the densities of cities, and on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In that regard, I applaud the agreement between the Government of Quebec and the Caisse de dépôt et placement for investing in infrastructure. That is a responsible approach to investing in social development without increasing the debt of Canadians.

Second: Helping Canadians who wish to pursue post-secondary studies. Education is of course under the jurisdiction of Quebec and the other provinces. But supporting families, supporting Canadians who wish to expand their knowledge and fulfill their ambitions, that is our collective role, that is the role of a government helping Canadians to succeed. I will say it again: We will form a government that helps Canadians to succeed.

The third point is exporting goods and our know-how.

Stephen Harper’s indifference to what President Obama recently described as “the greatest threat to future generations” is simply shameful.

Strong economies produce goods. Manufacturing is the number one investor in research and development. It provides good jobs outside urban areas as well as in urban centres. We will help manufacturers to modernize and to reach new markets. We will help small and medium-sized enterprises in emerging markets and help them gain a foothold in Europe. We need to be prepared for the Canada–European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

This support for exports will also extend to promoting and disseminating our cultural works in Canada and abroad. Arts and culture enrich communities and broaden people’s horizons. Better promotion and dissemination of our cultural works leads to both wealth creation and social development. Quebec is an extraordinary example when it comes to promoting its artists abroad, and the Canadian government should support initiatives for the international dissemination of our works and artists.

Fourth: Entrepreneurship.
Canada is a country of small and medium-sized enterprises. That is also true in Quebec, which has more than 220,000 businesses, of which 98 percent have fewer than 100 employees. This means that our prosperity is embodied in entrepreneurs who take chances. We will help them to grow, to secure funding and to innovate.

To that end, we will create an environment that is more investment-friendly. We will do everything to make it easy and profitable to invest in the future of Canada, and in the growth of our businesses.

Labour-sponsored funds play an essential role in starting up small and medium-sized enterprises. It is money used to create jobs here in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada. Recently, the Government of Québec changed the governance of these funds to increase their ability to invest. By investing in these funds, Quebeckers are investing in their future. Unfortunately, the Conservative government decided to end the tax credit for contributions to these funds.

Therefore, I am very proud to announce today that a Liberal government will reinstate the tax credit for contributions to labour-sponsored funds.

Because everyone wins. In Quebec, these funds help 650,000 workers to save for retirement, while investing in small and medium-sized enterprises.

Lastly: scientific research and innovation. The Conservatives had slashed support for research. Yet, that is where the jobs of tomorrow are created, that is where inventions are made that become businesses. We will reinvest in science, we will give back to scientists their right to speak, and we will immediately reinstate the long-form census.

Those are the major aspects of our economic policy, which will build on the talent of Canadians.

But a Liberal government will implement another significant change: sustainable development. The economy and the environment are not at odds with each other; we cannot have one without the other. The two must go hand in hand.

We will therefore continue to develop our natural resources, but never by sacrificing the environment.

We also want to address our international obligations.

The next UN Climate Summit will take place in 10 months, in Paris. If I am the prime minister of Canada, I would like to be standing with all the premiers of Canada.

It is time that Canada spoke with a coherent voice, and that the point of view of its leaders, such as Quebec, be valued.

A Liberal government will firmly commit Canada to fighting climate change. Because that is the right thing to do for our economy and our future.

Stephen Harper’s indifference to what President Obama recently described as “the greatest threat to future generations” is simply shameful.

That indifference is not only wrong from an environmental perspective: it has a price—it weakens our trade relationships. Our partners are committed to the fight, but we are not. This cannot go on.

Those who believe that there is a cost to taking action against climate change are mistaken. The cost is in failing to take action. Think about shoreline erosion in Quebec, permafrost melting in the Far North, and increasingly frequent extreme weather, such as the floods in the West. We are already paying a high price for the problem; it is time that we realize it and act accordingly.

Quebec has set up a carbon market. British Columbia, Alberta and soon Ontario will also go that way, putting a price on carbon. That means that today the provinces that account for 85% of the Canadian economy are making this change.

Canada will set national targets for greenhouse gas reductions. Because our children will be proud of us and because I am certain that fighting for the environment also benefits the economy. To reward those who reduce pollution is to spark innovation; solutions are invented that can then be shared with the entire world.

The jobs of tomorrow will be created in countries that are committed to sustainable development.

Canada must stop this absurdity, where it rewards those who pollute. We must go in the opposite direction, because that is the only possible direction. As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recently said: “There is no Plan B, because there is no Planet B.”

One cannot choose between the economy and the environment; the two are inseparable.

The Liberal Party wants Canada to once again be a positive force internationally and to accurately reflect the ambitions and hopes of its people.

The policy we are developing is tailored to stimulate the development of Montreal.

Great things are happening here. The community is rallying. I’m thinking about the movement launched by Jacques Ménard, jevoismtl. I’m thinking about the large campaign, Prospérité Québec, launched recently by the Conseil du patronat du Québec, with support from the business community, including this board.

And we must not forget to point out the leadership of our mayor, Denis, in discussions with the Government of Quebec, to have Montreal be recognized as a metropolitan centre, with the associated levers.

I’m also thinking about all these projects that are making progress: Le Quartier de l’innovation, a partnership between McGill University and ETS; and the science campus of Université de Montréal. The new university hospitals. The project, Denis, which is close to your heart, the covering of the Autoroute Ville-Marie.

The government I will lead will stand with Montreal.

With the Conservatives, the minister from Montreal is in Estrie; with the Liberals, the prime minister will be a Montrealer.

And I can tell you one thing: As a Montrealer and a Montreal MP, I think the same thing as you: a metropolitan centre like Montreal should have rapid transit to its international airport. This matter has dragged on long enough. It is a federal matter, and we will provide the leadership to bring together partners at all levels to address it as quickly as possible.

And if it is the name of the airport that has prevented the Conservatives from taking action, I tell you that it is the same thing that will force us to take action. It is time to free Trudeau Airport from its orange traffic cones!

Montreal, university town, city of culture, high tech, pharmaceuticals and aerospace, will benefit from the strategic investments of a Liberal government in science and research. Our support of entrepreneurship will benefit this growing community that is making Montreal an incredible hub for digital creation. Around here, Quebeckers of all origins are designing five of the ten bestselling video games in the world. Here, cultural vitality combines with technology like nowhere else in North America.

Montreal has a unique place in history and in the Canadian identity. A city of diversity and inclusion, Montreal is also the second largest French-speaking city in the world, and that basic characteristic of Montreal and of Quebec must be promoted. As well, I am terribly partial; we have the greatest hockey team!

One way to do this, one way to affirm this role of pillar of the Canadian Francophonie that is Montreal, is to ensure adequate, stable and predictable funding to Radio-Canada.

Manufacturing is the number one investor in research and development. It provides good jobs outside urban areas as well as in urban centres. We will help manufacturers to modernize and to reach new markets. We will help small and medium-sized enterprises in emerging markets and help them gain a foothold in Europe.

Francophones from coast to coast need a link to unite them and help them understand the reality of the country; the last thing they need is this abhorrent ideological war that the Conservatives have been waging against Radio-Canada.

We will give back to Radio-Canada the means to proudly undertake its unique mission to provide information and reflect Canadian diversity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Liberal Party of Canada is at work. We are developing a new economic policy that will make Canada a modern power capable of prospering in a complex world.

We are building an outstanding team that will be a force for change. And it starts here, at home in Montreal.

See you soon. Thank you.