Candidate for Leadership of the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance Party
PRIORITIES FOR A CANADIAN ALLIANCE GOVERNMENT
Chairman: Catherine Steele
President, The Empire Club of Canada
Head Table Guests
Gareth S. Seltzer, Director, TWS Private Management, President, Traffic511.com and Past President, The Empire Club of Canada; Reverend Stephen Drakeford, Associate Priest, St. Mathews Anglican Church, Islington; Anastasia Annina, OAC Student, Parkdale Collegiate Institute; Andre Turcotte, President and CEO, Feedback Research Corporation; The Hon. Frank Klees, M.P.P., Minister Without Portfolio and Chief Government Whip, Government of Ontario; The Hon. Henry N.R. Jackman, CM, KStJ, BA, LL.B, LL.D, OO, Former Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, Chairman and President, EL Financial Corporation Ltd. and Past President, The Empire Club of Canada; John C. Koopman, Principal, Heidrick & Struggles and Third Vice-President, The Empire Club of Canada; The Hon. Pauline Browes, Vice-Chair, Ontario Environmental Assessment and Appeal Boards, Former Minister of State for the Environment of Canada and Former Minister, Indian Affairs and Northern Development; Jim Jones, M.P., Member of Parliament, Markham; and Robert J. Dechert, Partner, Gowling, Strathy & Henderson and Immediate Past President, The Empire Club of Canada.
Introduction by Catherine Steele
It is my privilege to introduce to you now our guest speaker, Tom Long, candidate for the leadership of the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance party.
Those who follow or study politics can tell you what they believe are defining moments in Canadian national politics. Events like repatriation of the Canadian Constitution and the Quebec referendums of 1980 and 1995-historic moments for Canada where a decision taken set the course for the future of our country.
The creation of the Canadian Alliance, a new national political party, and the selection of its first leader are history in the making and should be regarded as one of those defining moments for Canadians.
The Alliance is built upon the grassroots support of Canadians across the country who want an alternative, someone to listen to their concerns, take them seriously, and do something about them as their representatives in Ottawa.
Since its official birth this past January, stories about the Canadian Alliance have been everywhere--on TV, on the radio and in newspapers across the country.
Throw in a leadership race and the result is, and has been, wall-to-wall media coverage of every move and spoken word of the candidates running for leader of the Canadian Alliance.
Our guest today, Tom Long, is one of the reasons for this heightened interest in the leadership race. At the recent Premier Harris dinner here in Toronto, Tom was easy to spot in the crowd of over 3,000. He was the one in the middle of the crush of reporters, TV cameras, and lights moving throughout the room. Our luncheon here today is sold out and I believe we have a record crowd here today with over 350 people.
Tom was born and raised in Sarnia as the eldest of four children. He earned a law degree from the University of Western Ontario in 1982 and was called to the bar in 1984.
In addition to being an associate at two law firms, Tom held an executive position with Dom Group Limited, one of Canada's major retailers and led the establishment of the Toronto practice of Egon Zehnder International, a leading international search firm.
Having been involved in conservative politics since 1972, Tom has worked in the Prime Minister's office, and managed election campaigns for former M.P. Pauline Browes. He is also Past President of the Ontario PC party and his role as the architect of the Common Sense Revolution is legendary.
He chaired the 1995 Mike Harris election campaign, leading the team to victory and carried out that role again in 1999 giving Mike Harris and his team the first back-to-back majority victories since the days of John Robarts. He was also the Co-Chair of the founding convention of the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Tom Long to The Empire Club of Canada.
Thank you very much and Catherine thank you for that warm introduction.
Before I get into what I came here to say today, I feel that perhaps I should comment on the front page story in The Globe and Mail today. I want to start with the good news. My campaign is doing just fine. But I do want to say that I was somewhat troubled by the suggestion in that story that there may be those becoming involved in our new party who believe we can put walls up to try to keep people out. I want folks out there to know that as a candidate for leader and prime minister I simply will not tolerate discrimination of any kind. I'm a pro-family, pro-life guy but I also believe that you don't have to tear anybody else down in order to support the things that you believe in. Our party is going to be inclusive, we are going to reach out to people from all across the country, and we are going to keep the doors wide open. I don't believe for a minute that this country needs another party that's going to divide it. I think we need leadership in this country that's going to pull us together.
I'm proud of the fact that members of my campaign are telephoning people asking them to join, not making lists of people we want to keep out. I believe that's the kind of party we want as the Canadian Alliance. I think it's the kind of country we want. If we don't keep the doors to this party open we're not going to win a campaign and nor will we deserve to win a campaign. We have to be open and inclusive for Canadians from all across this country.
Now I've got to be honest with you. I'm about as surprised as many of you are that I'm standing up here. I hadn't planned on being a candidate for the leadership of this party. I'm a businessman. I've been lucky in my life. I've been able to volunteer my time to the political causes that I believe in. I've always had the opportunity to fight for small-c conservative values. I had the fortunate chance to be President of the Ontario Conservative party when we were rebuilding after the voters invited us to take a bit of a breather. I was very fortunate to have the chance to stand by my very good friend Mike Harris in two tough but important election campaigns. I was there with Mike Harris when he was 32 points behind in the polls. There weren't a lot of people who were betting that Mike Harris could win that campaign. I believed in him. Mike believed in Mike and my mother was sort of 50-50. But he stood up for what he believed in and he gave the people of this province a different path, a different way, and a better future for our province. He didn't apologise for his views and he told the people of Ontario that if they elected him that he would do what he said he would do. I've never been prouder than in those two election campaigns when I could help someone who's as fine a leader and as committed a Conservative as Mike Harris.
I think that these are extraordinary times. It's true that I have never sought public office. I haven't spent much of my life in or around government. I'm a small businessman. I actually think the fact that I haven't been elected is one of my strongest assets. I haven't been part of the system. I haven't gone to Ottawa to find out all the reasons why things can't happen. I think this country needs shaking up and I think we have to change the way that we do business in Ottawa.
I'm not just here today because I'm a businessman. I'm here today because I'm a father. I have three children-a girl Melissa who's 17, a bright and wonderful kid, a little boy, Michael, who's 12, and Lesley and I have a little girl
elicity who's three. Here's an example of bad planning. We're going to have another baby about a week before the vote. I think I'll be campaigning in about a four-block square area in the week before our baby is due.
Melissa, like a lot of kids her age, is thinking about her future. She's thinking about where she is going to go to school. She's thinking about what kind of career she wants to have. She's thinking about where she's going to live. Kids today know a lot more about the world and about the way things are than they did when I was that age. They think more about the wider world we all live in, and so she, like a lot of kids her age, is thinking about the United States. In the weeks that I've been in this race I haven't gone to a meeting in any part of this country when I haven't had someone come up to me and tell me a very similar story about a son or a daughter who doesn't live in Canada anymore. They're in New York or Chicago or Atlanta or San Francisco or they're living in London, England or Australia. They're seeking opportunities outside our borders. That's not entirely bad because there is a globalising economy and it is a good thing for our young people to be exposed to different countries and cultures, and different ways of doing things. What I'm concerned about is that we are losing our standard of living and we're making it that much easier for our kids to make the decision to go. I want my daughter here in this country. I'm a dad. I want her to be close to me. But on the other hand I want the best for her. People come up and tell me their stories about their young kids who have left the country and I think it is a measure of how we are slipping as a nation that increasingly our children are only coming home at Christmas. I'm in this race because I want to change that.
I want to lead a party that's going to start a debate that will be every bit as thorough, every bit as vigorous and every bit as important as the debate that we had on free trade in this country in 1988. I want to ask the people of this country to dig deep down inside themselves and think about what the future of this country could be. I want to ask Canadians to think hard about the choices that we are going to make as a country now, not in 10 years. John McCallum, who's the Chief Economist at the Royal Bank of Canada, has talked about the decline in our standard of living. He said that 10 years ago our standard of living, which he defined as per capita of disposal income, was about three-quarters the level of the United States. Today, even after having several very good economic years, we're now down to about two-thirds the level of the Americans. And John says that without a change in our course, in 10 years' time we're going to be at about 50 per cent of the American level, about half that of the United States. My friends, that's just unacceptable. That's why we need a change; that's why we have to make a U-turn towards prosperity. I want to challenge Canadians to reach for the goal of turning Canada into the leading wealth-creating nation on the face of the earth. Our goal is to simply make Canada the world's leader, the global standard.
That is why I want to tell you about the priorities that I would have and a Canadian Alliance government would have. I want to start with our economic plan which is so fundamental to turning Canada in an exciting new direction. The cornerstone of that plan is our 17-per-cent single personal income tax rate. It's a big bold tax change for every Canadian tax payer. This change will cut income taxes dramatically. For example, the average two-income two-child family of four will have $2,000 more left in their pockets once our plan is completely implemented. Single-income earning families will do even better. They'll have close to $4,000 to spend on things that really matter to them. What's important in this plan however is that every single tax payer in this country will pay less, significantly less, in personal income tax when the Canadian Alliance government implements its plan. It means that hardworking Canadians are going to have significantly more means to do the things that matter for them and their families. Now we've seen what this kind of tax relief can do right here in Ontario. When we had powerful tax cuts, they helped us to achieve record high levels of job creation. They spurred investment and growth in our economy. Many more people are working here in Ontario today. Nearly three-quarters of a million more people have jobs in Ontario thanks to Mike Harris. So many more of them are working that even at lower tax rates revenues have climbed.
What we need today is an integrated comprehensive tax-cut plan. Cutting personal income taxes is the essential first step but it's not enough in and of itself. We need the one-two punch of personal and business tax cuts to get our economy rolling. And that's why we must reduce capital gains taxes. The Chretien Liberals in the last Martin budget proposed a capital gains inclusion rate of 67 per cent. What I'm advocating today is that a new Canadian Alliance government cut the inclusion rate on capital gains to 50 per cent and these included gains will be taxed at a single 17-per-cent rate. The effective federal capital gains rate would drop to 8.5 per cent. The combined federal-provincial rate for capital gains will fall below the U.S. long-term tax rate of 20 per cent. To put that into plain English, we'll stop being a place where taxes curb initiatives and enterprise and instead Canada will become a magnet for investment and jobs and growth. This will reward risk takers. It'll encourage all those investors to put their money to work creating more jobs and building businesses right here in Canada. This country will be at the centre of the new global economy, not watching from the sidelines.
We can't stop there either. Prior to the recent Martin budget the Canadian Alliance advocated reducing corporate income taxes from their current level of 27 per cent down to 21 per cent. However, like my good friend Mike Harris, I look for every opportunity to deepen and accelerate tax relief for hardworking Canadians and for job creators in our economy. That's why I'm also proposing today to lower business income taxes even further from 27 per cent to 15 per cent by the year 2003. As a result of these bold changes, for the first time in living memory, Canadian business taxes would be lower than those in the United States. Canada will become the place to come, to stay, to grow; to invest in; and where to build your dream.
Lower capital gains and corporate tax rates will give Canada a tremendous advantage in attracting new businesses and new investments and, most important of all, providing new jobs. Along with the equal 17-per-cent personal income tax rate these bold measures in business taxes will be key to making Canada the world's enterprise zone. It's not enough, as the leaders of the other parties are saying, that we're closing the competitiveness gap with the United States. That is a loser's strategy. It is far too timid a goal. That's why Canada has to move to the forefront, so that we can be the world's most dynamically growing economy.
There will be those who will say that it can't happen. I expect a few people on the editorial board of The Toronto Star might have a difference of opinion with me on it. But for all those people who say that it can't happen I would point to Ireland, little Ireland. Twelve years ago the Irish standard of living was about half that of Canada. The people made a deliberate national choice. They didn't want to be poor anymore. They voted on taxes, they reduced a regulatory burden and they opened their arms to successful people from all across this world. They said if you want to make your dreams come true come to the Emerald Isle.
Canada has the strategic advantage of being on top of the largest most dynamic economy in the world and blessed with a well-educated highly motivated population-people who do want to win. There's no reason in the world why we can't reach for the stars, why we can't reach for that goal of becoming the world's leading wealth-creating nation. I don't ask Canadians to set that goal because wealth is an end in itself. It is the means that we all need to have the things that we want in our lives--stable families and a dynamic community. It is how we're going to pay for the quality education we want for our kids and it's the way we are going to be able to have dependable health care for all people in this great country of ours. By holding a line on government spending and by eliminating the billions of dollars that we waste now on corporate welfare in handouts, we can make Canada competitive on a worldwide scale. We can do that and still pay down the debt by billions more than Paul Martin has projected. My friends, this plan is affordable and what we can't afford to do is to stand still.
I want to talk to you about the two other priorities that I would have if I'm lucky enough to be prime minister and we form the majority government after the next election.
We have to restore faith in our criminal justice system. As I travel this country, as I talk to people in town halls, as I meet folks and hear their concerns and aspirations for Canada, time and again they tell me we have a system that simply doesn't provide justice. We need a government that is prepared to make changes in the criminal justice system. We need to completely re-write the Young Offenders Act. We need to have a victim's bill of rights in Ottawa like we have right here in Ontario. We need to make parole much harder to get and much easier to lose. If your sentence is 25 years you should serve 25 years. And it is time we had a government in Ottawa that stood behind the women and men in uniform who serve us in the police forces of this country. We need change in criminal justice. We need a new government to deliver it.
The third area I want to talk to you about is making government smaller, making it more efficient, making it more democratic, making it more acceptable and easier to understand by our citizens. Our party stands for real reform of our parliamentary system. We are going to push for real reform of the Senate because the status quo simply isn't acceptable. We're going to permit our M.P.s to have more free votes so that they can do the job they were sent to do there in the first place-to speak on behalf of their constituents. And we're going to give all the voters of this country a money-back guarantee on the M.P.s that they do elect. If they send someone to Ottawa and he or she forgets where they came from and starts representing Ottawa to you rather than you to Ottawa we're going to give you the chance to pull that person back home. We're also going to open the system up. We're going to let citizens put issues on the agenda themselves called citizens' initiatives. We're going to give citizens the opportunity to put referendums to the whole country so that we can really hear what people think.
As I travelled, I heard from folks out there who didn't feel any sense of connection to their members, who didn't feel that there was any sense of connection to Ottawa. They didn't think anybody was listening to them anymore.
I think we have got to change that whole attitude in Ottawa. Ottawa doesn't always know best. We do need to have more respect, we do need to spend more time listening to each other as a people and we need our federal government to respect provincial heritage and jurisdiction. This country will work just fine if we respect the constitution that we have.
The great thing about the Canadian Alliance and the reason I'm standing here and so proud to be a member of it is the fact that it is not going to be a one-person show. That's not the way we run ourselves as a party and it's not the way we would run ourselves as a government. We're a team. We're a team of women and men from one end of this country to the other that don't want politics as usual anymore. We want change. We want real change.
And we're prepared to go before the people of this country and talk to them in plain terms about the kinds of changes that I talked about here today.
A great leader once said: ""We have every right to dream heroic dreams."" Those who say that we are in a time when there are no heroes just don't where to look. I've seen heroes in this country. I'm meeting them each and every day. They're quieter voices; they are the mainstream of this country. They're the people who work hard; they work very hard to provide for their families. They look after their kids and obey the laws. They play by the rules. They pay a lot in taxes. They don't ask for a lot back from their government. They want respect and they want freedom. They want the chance to make decisions for themselves and for their families. These aren't the people who protest out on the front lines, at the Parliament buildings or at Queen's Park. These are people who are simply out there making this country work each and every day.
The Canadian Alliance wants to represent these people. I'm in this race to be their champion. I believe that there is going to be a tidal wave of support for this new party across this country the opinion elite in Canada will never understand. They won't understand it because they don't relate to the folks that are out there. I've seen them each and every night at town halls. They have so much hope in their eyes. They want to believe again. They want a government that listens, that hears them, that respects their values and will run this country by the same values that they live and work by each and every day. My friends, I'm happy to be a candidate of the Canadian Alliance. I'm honoured to be on the same ballot as the very fine gentlemen who are also running for the leadership of this party.
I'm asking for your help and support. In return I promise that I will give you a campaign you can be truly proud of and a government that you will never have to apologise for. If you like what Mike Harris has done here in Ontario and if you like what Ralph Klein has done in the Province of Alberta, you are going to love me when I get to Ottawa.
Thank you very much.
The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by The Hon. Henry N.R. Jackman, CM, KStJ, BA, LL.B, LL.), 00, Former Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, Chairman and President, E-L Financial Corporation Ltd. and Past President, The Empire Club of Canada.