Keynote Speech at the 2014 Ontario Liberal Party AGM

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Hello. Bonjour. Ahnee. Bojoo.

Thank you very much for being here today. I acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of New Credit. Let me start by saying thank you. To all of you. To each of you. Thank you for all your work to make Ontario an even better place. Thank you for all the work you’ve done already. And for all the work that lies ahead.

A little more than a year ago you made me your leader. And that made me Ontario’s premier. You chose me for the best job that anyone dedicated to public service in this province could hope to hold. You gave me a job that gives me the chance to help the people of Ontario. It’s a privilege I have worked hard to honour. By working day-in and day-out. By offering our province safe hands and a steady balance -- in the face of a still-turbulent world economy. And by defending and advancing our values as Ontario Liberals. Values like opportunity and security. Not just for some. Not just for those who can afford it. But opportunity and security for all of Ontario.

And that, for me is the real test. The only test that truly matters. Are people doing better? Are they able to put their kids through school? Will their kids get well-paying jobs? Can they afford the things their families need?  Are they getting the health care they need Can they look forward to retiring with a decent income and with basic security? And when we pose those questions, of course we’re thinking about tomorrow.

But we’re also thinking of today. And that’s really important to keep in mind. As a government -- we must demand impatience of ourselves.  We must be impatient to see opportunity expanded today. Not some time down the road…. Some distant -- better point in the future. But right now. Right here. Right away.

I tell my team -- Be impatient. Ask more of yourselves. Ask for results. Because that’s what people in Ontario need. And that’s what they deserve. Impatience in government is a virtue. It’s a good thing. It reminds us of the difference between making promises and making progress. Of doing everything possible to help today. Instead of just hoping for tomorrow.
That’s why I’m so impatient when it comes to the subject of jobs. Of creating, attracting and delivering well-paying jobs for the people of Ontario. Of building the kind of job creation that grows our economy - and keeps it growing. That’s why we’re making record-breaking investments in apprenticeships and skills More than any government in Ontario’s history. Because I’m impatient.  

I’m impatient to get people into the workforce. And I’m impatient to get people drawing a good pay cheque. Today. Right away.

For the same reason, we’re dedicating $35 billion to build schools and hospitals… And roads, subways, highways and bridges. It’s an investment that will create 100,000 new jobs. And keep our people moving. And my commitment to building transit remains unshakeable.
I’m also impatient when it comes to defending the right of Ontarians to retire in dignity and with security. I’m impatient with Stephen Harper and his willful, ideological indifference to the retirement income crisis. It's hitting our province – and it's hitting our entire country.
It is somewhere between offensive and inexplicable to ask that people who have worked hard all lives to be rewarded with a retirement that takes them out of the middle That might be Stephen Harper’s way. It’s not our way. That’s not the Liberal way. Those are not our values.
We need to strengthen the Canada Pension Plan to give people a fair shot at a decent living when they retire. And we’re not the only ones saying this. Experts agree. Other provinces agree. In the past, even Ottawa has agreed. But today, the Harper Conservatives stand in the way. They are the problem. So I say to Stephen Harper quite directly:
If you won’t lead the way, then get out of the way.

Because those Ontarians deserve better.

And that’s what Leadership is.

Donc, Stephen Harper: Si tu ne veux pas ouvrir la voie, alors libère-la…
Parce que les ontariens méritent mieux que ça. C’est ça, le leadership.

So I ask all of you to rally to my side.

If Harper refuses to do the right thing, the smart thing… Then we -- Ontario Liberals -- will do the right thing.  We will find a way to bolster public pensions. To give today's working people some peace of mind tomorrow. I am determined when it comes to increasing opportunity. And improving security.

And I am determined when it comes to expanding job creation… To creating a stronger economy. And a fair society. Those are completely connected.

We have a six-point plan to meet our goals. To create good jobs and sustainable  It’s a practical plan. It’s a realistic plan…. That focuses on Talents and Skills….On Ontario’s Key Industries.

On our unprecedented Infrastructure investment and our Youth Jobs Strategy. On support for Small Businesses and a sensible approach to balancing the Budget. Best of all, it’s a plan that’s already working.

Unemployment is down. Consumer confidence and economic growth are up and job creation is on the rise.

We’ve got things moving in the right direction. But it’s nothing to take for granted. The plain truth is that government matters. Particularly at a time like this.

It matters who makes the decisions about our economy’s future. Their plan matters. Their team matters. And their values matter. That’s why it’s so important to put our plans – and our values – side by side. To measure them in comparison with one another.
You all know that I am committed to a positive and constructive way of doing politics and I invite comparisons. I welcome that scrutiny. I’ve got the plan. I’ve got the team. And our values are the values that Ontarians share.

Compare that to the alternatives. To the Conservatives and NDP. One wants a war on labour and the other believes that business is the enemy. Neither has a practical plan to keep Ontario moving forward. Neither shares our laser-sharp focus on helping middle-class families.

Tim Hudak’s plan can be summed up in three simple words: cut, cut and cut. He would cut investments. Cut pensions. Cut jobs. Cut growth. And he would cut Ontario’s economic recovery off at the knees. Tim Hudak might think we can cut our way to prosperity. I happen to think he’s wrong.

Tim Hudak might think we can strengthen our economy by weakening workers’ rights. I happen to think he’s wrong. And I happen to think we've seen this movie before.
It was a slasher film from the 1990s starring a guy named Mike Harris. And the last thing Ontario needs is a sequel. As a matter of fact Tim Hudak and I both got our start in politics thanks to Mike Harris. Tim ran provincially to help support his far-right agenda.
And I got involved at the local level to fight everything he stood for. I'm still fighting. And I will keep fighting because we're not going to let Ontario be dragged backward by There’s no way we’re going to let that happen again. Not on my watch. And not on yours.
I also believe it would be a mistake to place Ontario’s economic recovery in the hands of the NDP – Who are suspicious of business, Untested in governing, and who openly refuse to articulate their plan for our province. These days, the NDP doesn’t even make sense to the NDP. They took months to make up their mind on the minimum wage…Something that helps the lowest-paid workers in the province. And they still couldn’t come up with a coherent position. They’re against transit. Which is beyond belief.

They won't even take a stand on our fight for better pensions… And when it comes to the economy, they are missing in action.

En ce moment, le NPD ne fait aucun sens pour personne, y compris les partisans du Quand il s’agit de l’économie, on peut compter sur son absence. Tim Hudak ferait des coupures dans les investissements, des coupures dans les retraites, des coupures dans les emplois, des coupures dans la croissance.Il couperait bras et jambes à la reprise économique de l’Ontario.Le seul engagement de Tim Hudak envers la communauté franco-ontarienne est de couper les services en français. -- Non merci!

If there’s an election held this year, no one will need to ask what it’s about. It will be a choice between my safe hands and their reckless schemes. Between the Ontario Liberal Party’s plan for steady balance and solid progress and the opposition’s plan for risky, reckless detours that would steer us away from economic And away from the fundamental project of helping our people.

The budget this spring will be about these choices. And, when the time comes, that’s what the next election will be about.

I can see Ontario getting stronger. I can see the difference we’re making and the changes we’re championing.

Our economy is growing stronger. Confidence is returning. Opportunity is rising. And security is increasing. With safe hands and a steady balance – this province will keep moving forward.
We’re making progress, but the job is far from done.

This isn’t about politics, it's about people. We cannot stop until the factory worker in St. Thomas is successful in securing new skills and higher wages. Until that single mom in Ajax is able to make enough to help her daughter through community college. Until that young graduate in North Bay has the tools he needs to turn his good idea into a great small businesses.

We cannot stop and we will not stop ...Until that farmer in Renfrew with a great Local Food plan can actually get his food to our And that couple in Kenora planning their retirement has the peace of mind that only a real pension can provide.

We Liberals know something that the opposition, and Tim Hudak in particular, often Politics is not a game... Government can -- and must -- make a positive difference in people’s lives.
That is what we are doing. That is what we will continue to do as long as I am Premier.
That is why the budget we will present must pass… And if it doesn’t, then we must ... And I am determined that we will -- Win the election.

I have such optimism about our future. I believe in Ontario. I believe in our approach. I believe in this plan.  And I believe in our people.

I know Ontario is up to the challenge. I know that you are up to the challenge. And I want you to know that I am up to the challenge.

Thank you so much. Merci. Meegwetch.