We still have to prove ourselves:
[PoliticsWatch updated 5:15 p.m., January 23, 2007]
|Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
OTTAWA — Prime
Minister Stephen Harper told a Tory rally in Ottawa that one year
after the party's election win the Conservatives still have to prove
themselves to the Canadian people.
"(On election night) Canadians said to us, in effect, 'Show us what you can do and prove to us you can deliver.' Friends, we rolled up our sleeves and we can look back and say with pride, we have
delivered," the PM told about three hundred supporters at the
ballroom of a downtown Ottawa hotel.
After detailing a lengthy list of the government's accomplishments
in its first year in power, the prime minister said there
still remains much work to do with the Canadian public.
"As we enter our second year in office, Canadians are still saying, 'Show us what you can do.'"
After strong polling numbers in the first months following last
year's election victory, the Conservatives now find themselves
trailing or being neck-and-neck with the Liberals in virtually all
A Decima poll released last week showed the Tories trailed the
Liberals in all provinces with the exception of the Tory stronghold
Harper used the rally to bolster the troops in attendance, who were
primarily Tory Hill staffers, and to give the media counter
programming to the Liberal caucus retreat being held in Quebec
Parliament returns from a lengthy six-week winter recess on
It will mark the first time the Tories will face a more organized
Liberal caucus after Liberal Leader Stephane Dion revealed
the make up of his shadow cabinet last week.
The opposition parties and pundits are predicting that the
environment, especially climate change, will dominate the agenda
when MPs return.
However, the environment was just one item in the list of
legislative priorities that PM outlined in his speech on
The PM said the government will press ahead with three bills aimed
at Democratic reform by creating fixed election dates, setting term
limits for the Senate and holding elections to fill Senate
And despite recently trying to work more collaboratively with the
opposition parties on the environment, the PM signalled that he will
continue to press ahead with policies where the three opposition
parties have major differences of opinion with the government.
The PM said the government is "going to continue to keep pushing for passage of our crime bills."
There are still nine crime bills working their way through
Parliament, primarily because of problems opposition parties have
with some measures.
In addition, Harper said he will continue along the foreign policy
path that has won him both praise and criticism for taking sides in
the Mideast. The PM strongly supported Israel's actions in its war
against Hezbollah in the summer and made Canada become the first
country in the world to cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority
after elections gave power to Hamas.
"Canadians want us to continue speaking plainly and acting decisively,"
he said, promising he will "continue promoting freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law not just as our heritage but as the common destiny of all the peoples of this planet."
The PM also offered a preview of the upcoming budget -- reportedly
to be introduced in late March -- saying it will keep federal spending focused on results "reduce taxes even further for families and individuals" and address the fiscal imbalance.
While Harper was rallying his troops in Ottawa, Dion was doing the
same at a Liberal caucus retreat in Quebec City.
Dion issued a blistering attack on the PM, accusing him of lacking
According to Dion, the government's recent increased interest in
tackling climate change is motivated by politics, not
"Canadians will not be fooled," Dion said.
"They will know that there is something Mr. Harper cannot copy. It is the conviction, this conviction that we have as Liberals."
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