NDP Leader Tom Mulcair made his pitch to Bay Street Tuesday, telling the Economic Club of Canada that, if elected to form the next federal government, his party’s policies would be good for Canadian small businesses.

In his luncheon speech, Mulcair said he would reduce the small business tax rate as prime minister, from 11 per cent to 9 per cent. Mulcair also promised to reduce the rate faster than what the Conservatives promised in the latest federal budget.

The Official Opposition leader issued a series of pledges that touched on manufacturing, jobs creation and his party’s pledge to provide one million $15-a-day childcare spaces over 10 years. Mulcair said businesses and Chambers of Commerce support the childcare plan because it enables more people to return to the labour force.

Mulcair said Canada’s economic performance has suffered under the Conservatives, and an NDP government has a plan to grow the economy by “kick-starting” manufacturing and innovation.

Canada must position itself as a leader in clean-energy projects and technology, he said, suggesting “if Canada is to become a true energy superpower in the 21st century, we need 21st-century thinking.”

Historically, the NDP has routinely faced criticism from opposing parties that if the party were to gain power, they would spend too much of taxpayers’ money.

In an attempt to move away from that notion, Mulcair stressed the importance of a balanced budget, saying he believes “it is fundamentally important that the federal government live within its means.”

Mulcair received a standing ovation after his speech.

Speaking with reporters afterward, Mulcair said there are a lot of “clouds on the horizon, but the NDP has a clear plan to steer Canada in a better direction for the middle class, and for the creation of good, full-time jobs in this country.”

Mulcair said the reaction from the business community in the audience was “overwhelmingly” positive.

“It shows that the business community understands the importance of maintaining social programs,” Mulcair said, adding that his party is also “keenly aware that you can’t do any of those things if you’re not good stewards of the economy.”

Speaking to reporters on Parliament Hill later Tuesday, Industry Minister James Moore dismissed Mulcair’s criticism of the Conservative government’s economic performance.

“What I would say is just look at the StatsCan numbers from last month,” Moore said. “Canadian jobs are up 60,000, manufacturing jobs last month were up 22,000.”

He also said that the government has a “whole suite of policies” in this year’s federal budget to support manufacturing, automotive and aerospace industries.