INDEPTH: SPONSORSHIP SCANDAL|
Harper's reaction to the PM's speech
CBC News Online | April 21, 2005
Here is the full text of Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's speech in reaction to Paul Martin's address to the nation.
My fellow Canadians.
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper responds to Prime Minister Paul Martin's address to the nation on Parliament Hill, April 21, 2005. (CP Photo/Jonathan Hayward)
RealVideo (runs 6:22)
We have all just witnessed a sad spectacle -- a prime minister so burdened with corruption in his own party that he is unable to do his job and lead the country, a party leader playing for time, begging for another chance.
This is not how a prime minister should act.
A prime minister should not be addressing the population on this partisan issue, but rather on the concerns and challenges with which we are confronted: the health-care system, international trade, agriculture, the fiscal imbalance, safer communities, stronger families and a cleaner environment.
In the last election, Canadians elected a minority Parliament.
Over the past year, we Conservatives have worked productively with the other parties, particularly the other opposition parties, to make this Parliament effective.
Even last night, after months of resistance on the part of the government, we adopted a motion to ensure full compensation to all victims of hepatitis C through tainted blood.
If this Parliament is not working today, it is because the government has not made it work, because the government has no vision for the nation, because Mr. Martin is consumed by the image of corruption, crippled by dithering instead of deciding.
But we have now a more serious problem.
Mr. Martin received his mandate by holding an election before any of the facts of the sponsorship scandal were known.
Last May, it was Mr. Martin's decision to shut down the public accounts committee in its attempt to get to the truth.
It was Mr. Martin's decision to call an election last year before a single witness had been heard by Justice Gomery.
And it was Mr. Martin's decision to turn a blind eye to it all when he was minister of finance.
Do Canadians really believe that the No. 2 man in a government now under a cloud of corruption, is the person to clean up that mess today?
Do Canadians really believe that the Gomery inquiry would be operating if the Liberals had won a majority?
And do you really believe that the Liberals will ultimately prosecute themselves and hold their own to account?
I don't believe that. I don't think you believe that.
All of this creates a great deal of difficulty for us as the official Opposition.
The two other parties, the Bloc Quebecois and the New Democratic Party, have already voted to defeat this government several weeks ago.
The Conservative Party has tried to work with the government on issues where we can support its initiatives.
But how can we continue -- politically, ethically, or morally -- to prop up a government that is under criminal investigation and accusation of criminal conspiracy?
That's the real hard question that our caucus will address as they travel across the country the next week.
Let's be under no illusion.
However, the partisan politics of the next election play out, the Liberal Party of Canada has done tremendous damage to this country's institutions, particularly in Quebec.
Never forget that the sponsorship scandal is not a Quebec scandal.
It is a Liberal scandal that took place in Quebec, a Liberal scandal that took place in Quebec in the name of Canada and in the name of national unity.
The Liberal Party has turned federal politics in Quebec into a choice between separation and corruption.
And one thing is now clear -- the Liberal Party can no longer speak for federalism in Quebec.
It is tarnished beyond redemption, because Quebecers know it is beyond redemption.
Federalism must be rebuilt in Quebec by democratic options, founded on principles.
We are going to offer a democratic Conservative option.
We want Quebecers to choose Canada, and given an honest choice, Quebecers will always choose Canada.
But we must realize that what Quebecers will not do is choose corruption. They will not choose the Liberal Party.
The challenge for people outside Quebec is to show that we are equally prepared to demand accountability; to hold Mr. Martin and his party responsible and to build a united Canada where Liberal corruption has no place whatsoever.
Fellow Canadians, we all have difficult decisions to make.
Our party will make those decisions in our own way and in our own time, as we've done all along and we will do with your guidance.
Fellow Canadians, Mr. Martin's speech tonight was not about saving this country. It was about saving the Liberal Party.
That's a question for the voters to decide, but let me assure you there's no need to save this country. There's only a need to move it forward.
The Conservative Party wants to give this country direction. We want, and we believe you want, to end corruption and restore honest financial management; to have a health-care system that Canadians can count on when they need it; to better use the talents and credentials of new Canadians; to fix the fiscal imbalance plaguing our provinces and municipalities; to act on a made-in-Canada plan for cleaner air, water and land; to help our hard-pressed agricultural community and resource sectors; to give tax relief for Canadian families; and safety and security for our streets and our communities.
I look forward to sharing all of this with you, and more, in the near future.
Thank you, and good night.