As Harper touts success, Mulcair promises 2015 victory
Published Wednesday, May 2, 2012 8:00PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 8:12AM EDT
On the one-year anniversary of the Conservatives achieving a majority government, Prime Minister Stephen Harper congratulated his MPs on their success, while touting job creation and economic growth.
But Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair told his caucus that the Conservative government is merely on the defensive while the NDP has been mounting a strong, organized effort to change Canada's political landscape.
In his speech in Ottawa, Harper said his government is working hard to fulfill the economic promises made during the May 2011 election with one clear objective -- creating jobs and growth.
"(Canadians) gave us a mandate to secure their prosperity and this, my friends, we are doing. We are doing it every day, everywhere and in every way in which we can," Harper said.
Harper said nearly 700,000 net jobs have been created in Canada since the depths of the recession in 2008 and said "while most other developed countries sputter well below pre-recession numbers, more Canadians are working now than ever before."
Mulcair, however, said that Canadians are fed up with the government's "scandals" and "mismanagement" and are ready for change.
He said the so-called "orange crush" helped "millions of Canadians rediscover their voice in our democracy" and disproved the notion that a vote for any party other than the Conservatives or Liberals was a wasted ballot.
The NDP is ready to govern the country and will do so after the next election, Mulcair said.
"In 2015, Canadians will have the chance to write a new page of history and elect a government that says what it thinks and does what it says," he said, while paying tribute to his predecessor, the late Jack Layton.
"We have a job to do and Canadians are counting on us to continue the work that Jack started," Mulcair said.
Later on CTV's Power Play, Mulcair said his party has been able to distinguish itself by taking a decisive stance against the Conservatives' policies and management style.
"There is a really defining difference between the Conservatives and the NDP," he said. "It's clearer than anything that ever existed with regards to the Liberals. People are starting to have confidence in us."
For his part, Harper touted steps taken in the March budget, such as the streamlining of reviews and approvals for major projects, the elimination of red tape for small businesses and changes to the immigration system to target key skill sets.
But he said the global economy remains fragile and urged his MPs not to "rest on their laurels."
"Anniversaries such as these are pleasant occasions, however these important moments mark not only how far you have come but also how far you have to go," Harper said.
According to recent polls, the federal Conservatives and the NDP are statistically tied in national support.
A Nanos Research tracking poll showed that the Tories have the support of 34.7 per cent of voters while the New Democrats have 32.4 per cent. The Liberals were in third place with 23.3 per cent support.
But interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae warned both the Conservatives and the NDP not to get too confident.
"I'd say to both Mr. Mulcair and Mr. Harper, 'Please, don't inhale too much.' I've seen polls go up and down," Rae said.
He later told Power Play that the Conservatives lost credibility with the F-35 fighter jet purchase scandal, in which the government was accused of hiding billions of dollars in costs.
Rae said he's pleased with his party's performance in the House of Commons -- "we've been holding our own," he said -- but admitted the Liberals could do more to regain the popularity they once enjoyed.
Antonia Maioni, an associate political science professor at McGill University, said Harper focused on his government's economic accomplishments over the past year and had lots of material to draw from.
However, she told CTV News Channel she was more interested in what Harper didn't discuss in his comments.
"What happens with prosperity is you also have inequality -- people who aren't able to enjoy the fruits of that prosperity, and this government has not shown itself to be that open to those vulnerable (people)," Maioni said.
With files from the Canadian Press