I want to tell you what I think the election is
about. I want to talk about Canada.
It's my job to think
about Canada now. I used to do it just for fun. I grew up in a Canada
after World War II that was booming. Our population was only about 1/3
what it is today. Montreal was our largest city.
It was a country
of immense space and distance east and west, north and south. A country
of immense resources the wheat of the Prairies; the mines of northern
Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec; The oil of Alberta; the forests, lakes
rivers of everywhere. And mostly, it was a country of immense
possibilities so much space, so many resources. So much to do. So much
yet to be done. It was a country in the becoming. A country in the
Because we knew that what ever we were then, we would be so much more
That was the story I grew up with. That was the story I
In my life, I have lived in Hamilton, Toronto, Winnipeg,
Montreal and Ottawa. I lived in the U.S. for four years and in England
one. I've traveled to every province and territory in this country. As
hockey player, I had the chance to go to small places that few have
heard of, and fewer would ever think of going. As a Member of
I've had the chance to listen to and experience people of just about
background and interest.
Let me tell you of the Canada I
According to the UN Human Development Index, in terms of life
expectancy, educational attainment and adjusted real income, in 2005
Canada ranked 5th among 177 countries, and first among the G7 that is,
among the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada, Canada was
According to the World Competitiveness Yearbook, Canada has
the best overall quality of life among the G7, the lowest cost of
ranks highest in addressing such environmental concerns as air and
pollution, land protection and greenhouse emissions; ranks highest as a
safe place to live and to conduct business, ranks first in providing
opportunities, first in having the most fairly administered justice
According to the Intelligence Unit of The Economist, in
terms of general quality of life from a business perspective, Toronto
Montreal rank among the 10 best cities in the world; and over the next
years Canada will be the second best country in the world in which to
conduct business, after Denmark, ahead of the U.S.
We are a place
that, in general, is experiencing pretty good times. Our employment
is the highest in the G7; our unemployment rate is the lowest it's been
30 years. Since 1997, we've had the fastest rate of increase in living
standards in the G7, and the second best growth rate in productivity.
know that lots of things are also wrong. Too many people are poor. We
doing better, but we need to do far better for our aboriginal
for those with disabilities. In our health care, we need to feel as
citizens that if we aren't OK, we can see someone, and soon we will be
We say, "Justice delayed is justice denied," but in terms of many
illnesses and conditions, treatment delayed is treatment denied. We
to do better.
We need for many more kids to arrive at the
kindergarten door ready to learn because, in interesting, stimulating,
secure environments, inside the home and outside, in their early years
life, these kids will learn.
We need for many more adults, inside
their workplaces and outside, to get the chance to keep on learning, to
become better at the next thing — and the next and the next.
need to do better, and we also need to feel we can. That's why all
surveys and comparisons matter. Not for us to congratulate ourselves.
to help give us a realistic sense of ourselves, of how we are doing, of
where we fit in. They remind us of what we really are. Of what we can
We're pretty good, and we need to know that. It gets us to take
on more, what we should take on, what's in us to take on. Big things,
important things, tough things.
Economically, the future is always
a test. China, India there's always somebody who can do more, cheaper.
How do we stay ahead? How do we keep what we've got? How do we keep
low cost-low wage devastating race to the bottom? The numbers don't
But times are always changing and we've changed before. We know how to
change. We know we can change. And with our natural resources and our
levels of education, we have as much opportunity as anybody. We can
this game. We know that however good our present is, our future will be
Internationally — in a world growing more global, we are a
global country. Not just in our trade, our peacekeeping, in the aid we
provide, but day-to-day here in our existence at home. With our
nationalities, the world lives within our borders. We experience its
complications, challenges and richness up close in our neighbourhoods,
workplaces, our schools.
In those schools, long before our children
ever take one step beyond our country's boundaries, they live a global
existence. They experience difference, learn from difference, get used
difference, learn how to deal with difference. Difference matters a
lot less to us as Canadians than it once did.
It's an amazing
change. An amazing achievement. We don't know quite
how it all
will turn out, so we are a bit uneasy. But we are proud of this Canada.
know it makes us special. We know it makes us important.And we know it
offers us a remarkable preparation, a remarkable rehearsal, for living
the global world ahead.
We connect officially to the world through
the UN, the Commonwealth, the Francophonie, the G7, the Asia-Pacific
countries and more. But our connection to the world is much more by our
attitude, our instinct and perspective. In a global world, everybody is
small guy. In a global world, we need to discuss, listen,
compromise, work with others. As Canadians, that is our
That is us. And our experience with smallness, with
and "getting along" means in the future some significant role for us in
the world. A role that will also reflect back on us, come to be
by others as us, engender great pride and confidence in us, reinforcing
what we are and what we understand ourselves to be.
In behind all
of this are our social programs. And in behind our social programs,
importantly, are our social understandings. Our understandings as
Canadians. As Canadians, we expect certain things of and for ourselves.
expect certain things of and for others. We know that, historically,
living in a climate that was harsh and unpredictable, on a land that
be inhospitable and demanding, we could not make it on our own. We
our neighbours, and our neighbours needed us.
We know that from
these expectations and circumstances, we have developed
understandings of ourselves. We understand ourselves to
be generous. We believe that if someone really needs help, we will
We understand ourselves to be optimistic. We believe that
everyone deserves a chance, and when things go wrong, or are wrong, out
one's own fault or circumstance — poverty, disease,
disability, age –— we
believe they deserve another chance. And optimistic, we believe the
will be a better place. We do not believe that we live in the ultimate
Canada; in the ultimate world.
These understandings are our
underpinnings. They are the base we need to succeed in the now-bigger
world we live in that is, itself, often harsh and unpredictable,
inhospitable and demanding. They're the bedrock of our
We know that to live longer, healthier, smarter, to
live better, our human development system — our healthcare,
social programs — are critical. We know that
social policy are really part of the same thing. A good economy is our
best instrument of social policy. It not only generates more money to
programs, but it means more people able to support
themselves without the assistance of social programs, leaving more for
people who can't.
We know too that good social policy is critical
to good economic policy. Good health care and good education bring
into the country, and keep others here. With our basic needs taken care
of, we can focus on the challenges at hand. Economic policy
policy need each other.
I was a goalie. At first, I thought my job
was to stop shots. Then I realized it was actually to prevent goals
quite the same thing. It was to stop shots, but it was also to keep as
many shots from being taken as possible, by controlling rebounds, by
helping my defence in yelling instructions to them, by making good
Then I realized the job of the goalie was really something
more. In a game, any game, in everything I did, it was my job to
message to my teammates — that everything's OK back here.
Don't worry. Think about what you need to do, what you're so good at
doing. Move the puck up the ice, drive to the net — score.
all of your mind, on the challenge of that.
My job, in fact, had an
offensive purpose, not just a defensive one. It was to give confidence,
give the others the opportunity to go for it, to take a chance, to do
huge and difficult amount necessary to meet the challenge and
This isn't how we usually think about social
understandings and social programs. We think of them as safety nets,
something passive, just there, a protection for those too preoccupied
their own safety, who don't want to take chances. That rewards the
behaviour, that gets in the way of what we should be as individuals,
as a nation. But think about what a safety net really is. We imagine it
most often in relation to the circus, to trapeze artists, who at great
heights swing and leap from bar to bar a safety net beneath them. What
would it be like if there was no safety net? Who would want to be a
trapeze artist? How would they ever learn? And what would that first
even look like? What a safety net does really is encourage more people
try. To fall into the net, but then to get back up on that bar and try
again. To learn. To improve. To become good at something. Do you think
can do a double flip off one bar, 40 feet in the air, and be caught by
someone else the first time you try?
Without a safety net, you'd
better be able to do it, and every time you try. But really, who'd ever
get up there? How would anyone ever develop the talent, the skills? And
the future, would anyone try a triple? There's nothing passive, nothing
defensive about a safety net. A safety net is an improver. An enabler.
instrument that encourages bigger and bigger ambitions. That allows you
take risks. That makes you better.
But maybe the image of "the
safety net" doesn't work any more. Maybe it's too ingrained with the
What about our social understandings, our social
programs, as a trampoline? Something that looks like a safety net, but
when we come back down after flying through the air, we come down
and with a new knowledge, a new learning of what those heights are
like. We get a taste of those heights, a feel for them and what it
to get there.
Then putting down on the solid footing of social
understandings, social programs, education, training, we bounce back up
again. But higher this time because coming from a greater height,
more energy springing us up, and more self confidence that we can find
comfort and success at the higher elevations.
A trampoline, a
safety net this, I think, is what our social understandings, what our
social programs, do for Canadians. Just as with a goalie, they have an
offensive purpose and a defensive purpose. That is why they matter so
for a Canada that has an always evolving, always emerging
In a time of government-bashing, all this is easy to
forget. All this must not be forgotten.
About ten years ago,
I went back to high school for a year to write a book on education. Day
after day, I just sat in class. I wanted to know who was learning and
wasn't, and why. I wanted to know who was a good teacher, who wasn't
why. Some students were doing very well, some were not, many were just
there. The central question was how can they do better? The student who
has a 60 in math, how does he get to 70? He has a history in math and
everyday he walks into class, he brings that history with him. It's a
history that says: I hate math. I've always hated math. I can't do
And why do I have to take it anyway? I'm not going to be an engineer or
scientist. Why do I even have to be here?
And every day, that's
what the teacher has to teach to. A little humour and enthusiasm will
help, but it won't get the student from 60 to 70.
But if that
teacher sits down with that student, if she goes over his last exam
perhaps Let's take a look at this question, she might say. It's algebra
so you start with some knowns and some unknowns. You use the knowns to
figure out the unknowns. And here, in this line, that's exactly what
did. You weren't intimidated by the fact you had those unknowns, by
you didn't know. You just chipped away and figured out this part, and
that — and yes, you got the wrong answer, but look at how you
this — you have a math mind.
The student has the wrong story about
himself in math. And unless the teacher can get into his story and help
him find a way to write it another way, nothing will change. But if she
does, who knows? It is crucial for students, for hockey players, for
countries — to have the right story. To have the right
about themselves. That's what gets them, gets us, to what we can
What is that right story for Canada?
Our country grew up
in small pockets of population widely separated, each made different
the other by the land and climate around them, by their proximity or
distance from Europe, by the century in which they developed, and by
settled them first. Depending on all of those things, we became what we
could be. We created different lives, different ways of doing things,
different understandings of ourselves and where we fit into the world
into Canada. We made our lives where we were and we made them work for
At times, we can seem a fragmented place. But beneath the sometimes
rancour, we have Canada in common.
As regards Quebec, the strength
and success, the sustainability, of the language and culture of six
million French-speaking people in the midst of 300 million
English-speaking North Americans, is a remarkable achievement an
achievement almost unique in the world. It has happened because of the
ambitions of Quebeckers, their pride and belief in themselves, because
their determination to fight.
It has also happened because of the
"live and let live" understandings and instincts, traditions and
institutions of Canada; of all Canadians, Quebeckers
Whether we know it or not, whether we admit it or not,
whether we like it or not, each of us has been a big part in making the
other. And whether we know it or not, admit or not, like it
together we have built a pretty good country. In an election campaign,
can seem that everything is wrong. In the sour, nasty, charge and
counter-charge, never-ending election campaign of the last 20 months,
can seem everything is bad. It isn't. We cannot, we must not forget
Today, Canada's population is about three times as large as
it was when I was born. Toronto is now our largest city. Yet today what
see is a place not much different from the Canada I learned about as a
child. It has a dramatically different mix of cultures, races and
religions. But it is still a country of immense space and distances
and west, north and south. It's still a country of immense resources.
most importantly, it's still a country of immense possibilities. A
that is still in the making, still in the becoming. And now enough in
making, enough in the becoming, to know what we are; just beginning to
know what we can be.
We knew then, we know now, that whatever we
once were, whatever we are now, we will be much more tomorrow. After
than half a century of great change, of the rise of Japan, China, India
and the Far East, of the rebirth of Europe, of the fall of the Berlin
Wall, of the advance of globalism, of rises and falls everywhere, this
still our story.
As well there has been much talk lately about a
Pacific Gateway. With all our trade with China and India and all the
to come, we have a challenge before us to improve our transportation
infrastructure and our ports to make the most of these opportunities.
course, the Pacific Gateway is really about something bigger. History
—— our early explorers, trade and settlement may
Canada first an
Atlantic country, but our timeless geography and our history-to-be will
make Canada a Pacific country as well.
We need only to look at a
map: the distance between Montreal and Toronto, and London, Paris and
is not much different from the distance between Calgary, Edmonton and
Vancouver, and Tokyo. Perfectly situated, we are a country that is able
move to the west just as easily and comfortably as we move to the
We are a real global country, maturing, developing, just
beginning to think like and act like a real global country. And we are
country that understands that whatever may happen in the world
bad — whatever the trends or circumstances, with our space,
resources, our human resources, with our institutions, our stability,
peace, with our "find a way" attitude, with our "get along" instincts,
can make any future work.
A "Canadian" — modest, self-deprecating,
with an inferiority complex a mile wide. A style, a self-image that
off our tongues so easily, with head-nods, laughs and never a comment
the contrary — a myth we repeat so often we believe it.
Canadian, eh?" Garbage. A comfortable guise, but really an
unfortunate disguise that hides us from ourselves, that allows us to
escape too easily our bigger roles, our bigger responsibilities, our
We can't let that happen.
Canadians, how do we deal with health care, with child care, with
transportation, post-secondary education, Quebec, the US, and so on,
so on? We've got to have what we are inform everything we do and every
we do it. We've got to understand what we are, think what we are, act
we are, be what we are. Now, today, and in the future.
It is this
understanding of Canada that is me, that I take into what I do and how
do it. I can't stop myself. I couldn't if I wanted. It is why these
announcements we've made are so exciting. For people with disabilities
— an inclusive Canada, an accessible Canada what would that
In the workplace, in colleges and universities, on the
parks people who can do much more than they can't do. Now with a real
chance just beginning. Caregivers, so defined by their commitment to
they care for, now with a better chance to live a life beyond these
Seniors, their incomes more secure, living
healthier, longer, now living one-quarter of their lives as seniors;
quality of life much more a matter of "purpose." How do we
find that purpose? Big, tough, important, worthy tasks. Too big and too
tough for any of us to do by ourselves. Maybe they're beyond us
maybe they're not.
That's why early learning and child care has
been so great to work on. $5 billion over five years but to build a
system, a system of early learning and child care in every province and
territory in the country. To give kids, all kids, in those first years
life a better chance a better chance to enter kindergarten ready to
learn, which gives them a better chance to enter Grade 4 ready to
which gives them a better chance in Grade 7, and Grade 10, and
A better chance for them to be in a job where they can learn even more,
and more. And more. What is just about the most exciting
any of us to see? In anybody, but especially a kid, when the light goes
in their eyes. When they "get it," and they know it. And that
And what is just about the worst thing? When they
So, as parents, the big question for all of us: how can we
put our kids into the best possible circumstances and situations and
places where they can learn best? In the home, in our
outside as well. In their schools, in their after-schools.
their friends. Not to take away from the home experience, but to add to
Parents are central to their child's development always have
been, always will be. Every kid needs somebody who is not just crazy
them, but who really understands them. Who can think along and feel
with them. Who can then shape them and guide them and get them going
often in the right direction. And parents who, then, for the other
of a day, can explain their child to a teacher or coach or leader so
they can understand their kid too.
What's in every parent's
mind? I want the best for my kid. I can't draw. I can't
can't swim. I'm not so good working/playing with others. It's not
I work at home or outside. I could spend 24 hours, 48 hours a day, it
wouldn't matter. I want something more for my kid than I can give
That's what's in their mind. That's what this is
I want to give parents a better chance to be the parents
they want to be. I want kids in rural and remote areas, kids whose
or father or grandparents are at home, or in the workplace it doesn't
matter I want them to have something more.
Have you ever been to
a good pre-school or nursery school? A good family child care
or child care centre? For five kids, or 50. Go. Look. Watch
kids doing, exploring, adventuring in their heads and all around them,
dealing with others learning. It's so exciting. Watch for the light,
little smile. Then the big smile, when they're just so pleased with
themselves. And you think now they don't want more? They're hooked.
is what learning feels like. And these kids are shouting
that smile, "Give me all of that 'learning stuff' you've
That's what really bothered me about the Conservatives'
announcements. Put money into parents pockets fine. Be proud of that if
that's what makes you proud. Just don't call it early learning and
care. So limited. So limiting. Same words completely
What does this have to do with me "talking about Canada"?
Just a few weeks ago the Prime Minister talked about building a system
early learning and child care across the country and described it as a
"great national endeavour." Like Medicare.
But to take on a "great
national endeavour," you have to think in those big terms. It has to be
you. In your bones. It has to be part of your understanding
country, what it is, how it works, what it can be and should be. The
railroad, Medicare, the education system Canada was built on "great
national endeavours." In which Quebec was an immense part; in which
Alberta and B.C. and Nova Scotia and Ontario were immense parts. Great
national endeavours that made Quebec better, that made Quebec more
"Quebec." That made Alberta more "Alberta."
Two founding languages
and cultures, multicultural transformation it's not that Macdonald or
Pearson or Trudeau or even Mulroney always succeeded, but they had big
dreams, that made us dream bigger, that made "great national
I have spent more than a year in Parliament. I have
watched and listened. I've watched and listened in this campaign. I
think Mr. Harper thinks in terms of "great national endeavours." I
think that's part of his understanding of Canada. I don't think that's
what's in his bones. Listen to the announcements they've made. On child
care some money into our pockets to help make things a little easier
— for any purpose. These aren't vouchers. This is money for
any purpose a
new brace for your child with a disability, a night out for your
who never get a break. Important, worthy, real life things.
does that help your child learn better? How does it attract
someone who can really excite your child, so they want to peak around
every next corner? And how does someone who is poor or lower
class or middle class afford that for their child? The
of child care in this country is $8,000 a year. The answer to the
is — they can't.
Their campaign ads suggest: "Stand Up for Canada"
but what Canada? What Canada are they standing up for? Take child care
or public transit or Quebec or the U.S. think ahead 10 years. How will
that approach, that understanding, play out? What will Canada be? What
will we be?
Think hard. Really hard.
It's always easier to
do things separate and apart from others. It's less
It's human nature. I think, given a choice, most of us would
things alone if we could. Then every triumph, every defeat, every
satisfaction and pain, would belong to us, to me, fully and completely.
And in a time where divides are greater between young and
rich and poor; between the educated and super-educated — it
to go it alone.
To Mr. Harper, it's about what's in my pocket, in
my backyard, giving people the chance to make choices for themselves,
collective good emerging out of that. And there's something to that.
there's something not. Has he ever been on a team? Does he
it feels like? Does he know how it works? Part of bringing
best in people is coaxing, nudging, inspiring them to get together, to
work towards something bigger, bigger than themselves, that stretches
their imaginations, that gets them to do more than they ever thought
And really, there's not much of any importance that can be
done alone. What if, 100 years ago, government put $50 in every
pocket and told us to build a school system — if
where we'd like
put our money. What if, 40 years ago — here's $100
system, if that's where you want to spend it. Where would we be today?
Just because our schools and our health care are not all that we'd like
them to be —imagine where we'd be without them.
great by divvying up the building fund and going our separate ways;
fending for ourselves.
It's so limited. So
Government-bashing, bashing of any kind, is too easy.
We've made this country by doing big things together. As Canadians, as
anybody, we need our neighbours and our neighbours need us.
always have. As Saskatchewan, as Alberta, as Quebec, as Ontario, we are
successful. Together, as what we have made, as what we promise to be,
The railroad, Medicare, the education system Canada
is a great national endeavour. To me, more than health care, child
same-sex marriage and the rest, this is what the election is
I once played for the Canadian National Team. I played for
Team Canada in the 1972 series. People often say to me that I should
about "wearing the jersey," about playing for Canada. I've earned the
right, they say. I haven't done that because it seems a little too
And I haven't done it because really the feeling wasn't as transforming
they want it to be. It wasn't because, as you can tell in what I've
really I wore the jersey long before I ever wore the jersey. I'm a
Canadian. I like lots of other places. But I really like this place. I
want big things for Canada. I don't want anything less.
I'm here. That's why I'm running. That's why I chose the party I
From now until January 23rd, listen hard. Think
The Canada I see is of immense space and distances, immense
possibilities, that is still in the making, still in the becoming.
It's a country whose greatest national endeavours are still
For Canada, for the future, all the elements are there. We
have the right story — we need the right storytellers to tell