It was an all-natural feeling of euphoria that filled the air Tuesday evening inside a local hotel conference hall, during a Conservative Party of Canada gathering featuring Prime Minister Stephen Harper — the first federal party leader to visit Richmond since the 42nd federal election was called.
Harper addressed a decidedly partisan crowd of several hundred supporters, who frequently erupted in cheers, banging their blue thunder sticks and waving signs of local candidates, including Richmond Centre incumbent Member of Parliament Alice Wong.
“The world we live in is dangerous and unpredictable. Our economy and prosperity are vulnerable to things we don’t control.” said Wong prior to introducing Harper.
The Prime Minister of nine years did not field questions from media during the event, which ended with a CKNW radio reporter being shown the door for asking supporters questions about marijuana legalization.
Instead, Harper took the opportunity to cater to a number of points he’s been making early in his campaign.
Harper first thanked organizers, stating, “We know big events just don’t organize themselves,” and followed that by drilling down on the differences in economic philosophies between him and Liberal Party of Canada leader Justin Trudeau and New Democratic Party of Canada leader Thomas Mulcair.
He called upon his own leadership and resume as a long-time head of government to get the country through adversity.
He said Canada faces “difficult choices in an unprecedented time of economic instability …we don’t control the price of oil, we don’t control the price of the Chinese stock market or the financial mismanagement of other countries.”
Harper said Canada now has the lowest federal tax burden in over 50 years and his government has been the most open one ever to international free trade agreements.
He said keeping taxes low is of great importance.
“One of the principles of this government is that your money belongs to you, not the bureaucracy in Ottawa,” said Harper before being drowned out by cheers from the crowd.
Harper defended the one-size-fits-all universal childcare benefit program, which gives equal, taxable payments to all families with children, regardless of income levels.
“Justin Trudeau cannot explain how he will pay for all his expenditures …Do budgets balance themselves in Richmond?” asked Harper.
He then attacked Mulcair for promising to raise taxes on “job creating businesses,” alluding to the country’s low corporate tax rates.
On resource development Harper criticized an Ontario NDP candidate for recently stating ‘a lot of oil sands may have to be left in the ground.’
“This is the position the Mulcair NDP and the federal Liberals take regularly, coming out against projects again and again before the results of scientific environmental assessments are even completed. When push comes to shove these two parties always, always, always play to the anti-development crowd and they’ve even taken this view to oppose LNG development,” said Harper.
Harper rounded out his speech with stating his continued support for the international coalition against ISIS.
He said Mulcair and Trudeau are too politically correct on the issue.
“If you cannot bring yourself to call jihadist terrorism for what it is, you cannot be trusted to confront it,” said Harper.
He said Mulcair has voted against every security measure proposed by his government.
Harper further defended Bill C-51, which has been labelled by critics as 'Canada's Patriot Act,' as it may threaten civil liberties in attempts to monitor civilian activities in the name of national security.