Voters want to know 'why Liberal party exists,' Harper says
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, September 18, 2012 5:32PM EDT
As he continued to come under attack by the opposition for Canada’s economic performance, Prime Minister Stephen Harper used Tuesday’s question period to get off some shots of his own, openly wondering what remains of the Liberal Party that was decimated in the last election.
After Harper deflected several questions from NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair on the trade deficit, lost manufacturing jobs and youth unemployment, he faced criticism from Liberal House Leader Marc Garneau on not only the economy, but unanswered questions and attacks against the NDP during the previous day’s proceedings in the House.
The Conservatives had accused the NDP of proposing a “carbon tax” with its cap-and-trade proposal, despite the Conservatives having pushed for a cap-and-trade system in 2008.
“Yesterday we witnessed the very sad spectacle of the Conservatives and the NDP trading insults over their cap-and-trade plans. Is this what Canadians want, at a time when the economy is suffering, when 165,000 young people have given up and stopped looking for work, when youth unemployment is at almost 15 per cent?” Garneau yelled.
“What does it take to get this government to focus on the priority of jobs, instead of trying to switch the channel?”
Harper fired back that during challenging economic times, Canadians expect politicians to be focused on job creation, among other issues. Then, he turned his attention to the Liberals themselves.
“This party, this government has put forward its ideas and implemented them over the past few years, which has given Canada one of the best job-creation records in the developed world. The NDP, while I disagree with their policies, have put a few of those things, carbon-tax, protectionism, on the table. But the Liberal party says, ‘Look at us, we’re not either of them.’ Well, that’s not a policy. People expect to have some idea why the Liberal party still exists now.”
Garneau ignored the slight, carrying on with a question in French about jobs for youth, with the prime minister once again hailing his government’s job-creation record, but admitting “we still have work to do.”
The bad blood that opened the fall session of Parliament may have something to do with new polling data, released Monday, that showed the Conservatives and the New Democrats in a statistical tie.
The Nanos Research poll put Conservative support at 32.5 per cent support, with the NDP at 30.4 per cent.
The opposition parties were expected to come out swinging during the session’s first question period on Monday, and swing they did on the economy, unemployment and trade. On the one hand, the government pointed out that Canada’s economy has remained fairly stable given the turmoil around the world.
But Harper also chose to deflect questions about his future plans for the economy by attacking the NDP with accusations it wants to put forward a “$20 billion carbon tax scheme,” which Mulcair had to deny, saying his party is in favour of the same cap-and-trade system the Conservatives had at one time favoured.