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Minister Jason Kenney’s Speech at the Opening Ceremonies of the Conservative Convention – June 9, 2011

June 12, 2011

Thank-you.

Merci, John, de cette introduction.

Chèrs Conservateurs, bienvenue a notre capital nationale!

Bienvenu au Congrès conservateur 2011!

Fellow Conservatives, welcome to our nation’s capital!

Welcome to Conservative Convention 2011!

And welcome to this moment of promise about which we have dreamed, and for which we have worked for so long.

Un gouvernment conservateur fort, stable, national et majoritaire!

A strong, stable, national majority Conservative government!

I have been asked to speak to you tonight about our election victory.

But first, let me say to you, and through you to the tens of thousands of grassroots Conservatives who you represent:

“Thank-you.”

Thank-you for everything that you did, everything that you sacrificed, to make possible our historic victory on May 2nd.

You kept our movement alive in your communities during what were bleak and difficult years for Conservatives.

Cast your minds back for a moment to that time just a few years ago when Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay launched the new Conservative Party.

Do you remember? The Liberals were in their third consecutive majority, slashing our military; insulting our allies; raising our taxes; and scandalously funneling tax dollars into their own party.

Ils alimentaient les chicanes contre le Québec plutôt que de chercher des solutions avec un fédéralisme d’ouverture.

Ils gaspillaient l’argent des contribuables au nom de l’unité nationale alors qu’on sait que c’était d’abord et avant tout au profit du Parti libéral lui-même. Ils se croyaient invincibles et tout permis.

They had acclaimed a new leader who, the media told us, was a “juggernaut” set to govern Canada with super majorities for as long as they wanted. After all, they were the Natural Governing Party, and we were merely a divided opposition at the margin of Canadian politics.

But you didn’t give up hope.

Many of you spent uncountable hours away from your families building the strong foundation upon which this majority government stands. You didn’t make these sacrifices for personal advantage or gain, but because of your love for this country, and your desire to build a Canada that is strong and free.

Thanks to your hard work, Stephen Harper’s brilliant leadership, and the confidence of the Canadian people, we served as the longest and most successful minority government in Canadian history.

We have led Canada through global turbulence with the strongest economy in the developed world.

We have rebuilt our military, restored Canada as a principled voice for democracy in the world, protected victims of crime, supported families, and cut federal taxes to their lowest level in 50 years!

And now we have a strong, national, majority mandate.

What became of the Liberal juggernaut?

Third place.

34 seats.

By far their worst election result in history.

But if you just listened to our critics, you might believe that we didn’t really win this election.

Certains prétendent même que si l’on reprenait le vote aujourd’hui, le résultat serait bien différent.

It was just some kind of fluke.

The result of lucky vote-splitting, or voter apathy.

They’ll keep dreaming up excuses.

But friends, here is the truth:

Stephen Harper is the first Prime Minister in more than a century to increase a governing party’s share of the vote in three straight elections.

And ours is the first party in Canadian history to increase its share of the vote in FOUR straight elections.

We increased our support by more than 600,000 new votes, earning the trust of more than 5.8 million Canadians.

That is the second largest number of votes cast for a party in Canadian electoral history, exceeded only by the Tory victory of 1984.

We received 40% of the popular vote, which was the average vote share for the three Chretien majority governments.

Conservative ridings were won convincingly, with big margins. On average Conservative MPs won with 54% of the vote. Two thirds of our MPs won with a margin of over 20%.

Compare that to the Liberals. Most of their remaining MPs eked out narrow wins. Two thirds of the Liberal caucus won with a margin of less than 10% of the vote. In other words, they were the beneficiaries, not the victims, of vote-splitting.

We won 23 additional seats, for a total of 54% of the seats in the House of Commons.

By comparison, the Trudeau Liberals claimed a mandate for dramatic change in 1980 after winning only 52% of the seats. And they did so without a single MP from BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, or the North.

On a gagné on mandat majoritaire des canadiens de toutes origines et de toutes les regions.

We were the only party to win seats in all ten provinces, We won two of the three territories.

We won the popular vote in eight provinces, and in the North.

We won big in rural and suburban Canada.

And yes, Conservatives won the most seats in urban Canada, too.

The media used to say that we were locked out of urban areas, as though Edmonton and London, Winnipeg and Ottawa are small towns. I guess that’s because you can’t see them from CBC Headquarters on Front Street.

Well, they’re not saying that any more. That’s because Conservatives won more seats in the City of Toronto proper than any other party.

Fellow Conservatives, Tory Toronto is back!

Bien que nous ayons été déçu par la défaite de certains de nos bons députés au Québec, nous avons néanmoins eu plus de votes que les libéraux, et gagné plus de comtés que le Bloc.

Surtout, nous avons un base solide d’appuis sur laquelle on pourra s’appuyer lorsque les Québécois réaliseront que l’NPD est un parti centralisateur, d’augmentation de taxes et d’impôts.

Et on est devenu le parti des francophones hors-Quebec, ayant gagné deux tiers des comtés avec une population francophone importante, comme St. Boniface avec Shelly Glover; Madiwaska Restigouche avec Bernard Valcourt, et Ottawa Orléans avec Royal Galipeau.

We are now the party of aboriginal Canadians.

A growing number of First Nations, Inuit and Metis Canadians are supporting our message of hope and opportunity.

That’s why Conservative MPs now represent two thirds of Canada’s aboriginal population. And its why we have the largest group of aboriginal MPs ever to sit in Parliament, with talented, principled men and women like Rob Clarke, Rod Bruinooge, and Leona Aglukkaq.

Nous représentons maintenant des régions qui n’avaient jamais dans le passé voté conservateur, comme dans Glengarry Prescott Russell avec Pierre Lemieux; Kenora avec Greg Rickford; et Labrador avec Peter Penashue.

And we made huge gains in other Liberal strongholds.

Not long ago, Vaughan was one of the safest Liberal ridings in the country. On May 2nd, Julian Fantino won Vaughan by 19,000 votes.

In Sydney Victoria, Cecil Clarke’s spirited campaign came within a few hundred votes of winning what had been one of the safest Liberal ridings in Atlantic Canada.

Il y a une décennie, les libéraux gagnaient la circonscription de Mont-Royal par une marge de 89%. Le deux mai, le candidat conservateur Saulie Zadel n’avait besoin que de 5% de plus pour battre le député libéral.

Chers amis, il n’y a plus des sieges libéreaux sûr.

Fellow Conservatives, there is no such thing as a safe Liberal seat anymore!

And the Orange Wave could not displace a Blue Sea of support for Conservatives in areas that had historically been represented by the NDP.

Yorkton Melville used to be known as Red Square because for decades it was the safest CCF-NDP seat. Well, it isn’t anymore. Garry Breitkreutz just won it for the seventh time – with 69% of the vote.

And for the first time ever, the NDP does not represent the hard-working people of Elmwood Transcona in Winnipeg. Conservative MP Lawrence Toet does.

More and more traditional, hard working New Democrats are realizing that Downtown Jack Layton doesn’t respect their values, but that Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party does. Just ask a former Canadian Auto Worker member like our MP for Essex, Jeff Watson.

Friends, perhaps the most important development in this election was this: on May 2nd, it became clear that the Conservative Party is now the party of new Canadians!

For decades the Liberals took for granted the support of Canada’s immigrant communities. And while Conservatives have always been the party of diversity, we allowed our adversaries to monopolize political relationships with cultural communities.

This meant that in the 2000 election, the Liberals had a 60% point lead amongst immigrants.

Here is perhaps one of the most important achievements of Stephen Harper’s leadership.

He understood that most new Canadians are natural small-c conservatives.

That by making a sustained effort to reach out on the basis of our shared values, we could turn those small “c” conservatives into big “C” Conservatives.

And we did just that.

Polls indicate that we won at least 42% of the votes of immigrants to Canada, higher than our support within the general population, giving us about a 20% lead over the Liberals amongst new Canadians.

That’s why today our caucus represents 54% of Canada’s immigrants.

And it’s why Conservatives swept many of the most diverse parts of our country.

Like Peel Region in the GTA, where Bob Dechert led the way, and where all eight Peel ridings are now represented by Convervative MPs!

Ridings like Brampton Springdale, a majority of whose residents are new Canadians, where in two elections Parm Gill and his team managed to turn a 10,000 vote Liberal lead into a 10,000 vote Conservative victory.

And ridings like Richmond, BC, where Alice Wong won 58% in a constituency where two thirds of the voters are new Canadians.

Election after election, Conservatives used to be shut out of majority immigrant ridings. But in this election, for the first time ever, we won most of these seats.

We presented, yet again, the most diverse slate of candidates of any federal party.

And we have now elected the most diverse caucus in Canadian Parliamentary history.

We also have more Conservative women MPs than ever before.

We have achieved all this without condescending Liberal-NDP style quotas, affirmative action, or appointed candidates.

Every one of our MPs ran on their merits and earned their election.

So how did we achieve these historic breakthroughs?

Stephen Harper’s strong, steady leadership obviously gave Canadians great confidence.

Our government’s track record, and our pro-growth policies were a big factor.

All of our hard organizational work at both the local and national level gave us an edge.

Of course it was helpful that our adversaries were focused on the obsessions of the chattering classes – like Taliban prisoners – rather than the practical bread and butter concerns of hard working families.

But I believe that this election has seen the creation of a new, durable and diverse Conservative electorate for a very simple reason.

Because conservative values are Canadian values.

Values like freedom, enterprise and hard work.

Personal responsibility, equal opportunity, and respect for law and order.

Family, faith and tradition.

Canadians of all backgrounds are drawn to our party, not in spite of our values, but because of them.

They see in our beliefs and priorities the highest aspirations of most Canadians.

The left-wing elites make the fundamental mistake of confusing our country with the government.

For ideological reasons, they can’t see it any other way.

As conservatives we believe that the country comes first. As we’ve seen, any presumed “natural governing party” that forgets this reality is in serious trouble.

Canadians don’t love government. We love our Dominion.

We don’t depend on the bloated bureaucracies of the nanny state. We thrive on our freedom and are upheld by the rule of law.

We don’t believe that Canada’s history began in the Summer of Love. We honour a tradition reaching back to the Magna Carta.

We don’t think only of our rights. We are mindful always of our responsibilities.

We don’t mistake relativism for tolerance, and we’re not afraid to call a barbaric cultural practice what it is.

We seek unity in diversity, and we know it can flourish only when supported by our common values.

As conservatives, as Canadians, our heroes are not protesters or celebrity activists.

Our heroes are the practical visionaries who united our country;

the immigrants who have left everything to help build it;

the brave soldiers, in every generation including our own, who have laid down their lives to defend it.

And our priorities as Conservatives are the real-world, everyday concerns of our fellow Canadians.

They’re raising a family in Brampton West.

They’re starting a small business in Vancouver South.

They are proudly taking the oath of citizenship in York Centre.

Ils s’occupent de leurs enfants qui jouent au soccer à Longueuil.

Ils organisent des activités culturelles dans le Bas-du-Fleuve.

They are the hard-working people of Canada, building and sustaining our local communities one person, one family, and one neighbourhood at a time.

The election is over, but for us the real campaign has just begun: the campaign to secure a vibrant and prosperous future for our country.

This is our task for this weekend. This is our task for the next four years and beyond. And this is a special responsibility for you, our grassroots members: to ensure that our government does not waiver, and that we stay true to our conservative principles.

Some day long after this meeting is over …

Some day long after we have stopped celebrating our victory and after you and I have been forgotten…

Someone will ask: what did the Conservatives do with their majority of 2011?

Let us make sure that it will be said we seized the opportunity.

That we kept Canadians’ trust.

That we made Canada, the true north, as strong and free as it can be.

God bless Canada.

Que Dieux benisse le Canada!

The Maple Leaf Forever!

Thank-you.

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© 2011 JasonKenney.ca