Prime Minister Stephen Harper and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair presented different interpretations of the Conservative government's performance over the last 12 months as they marked the one-year anniversary today of an election that was historic for both parties.
Both leaders allowed cameras into their weekly caucus meetings on Parliament Hill on Wednesday morning to capture their anniversary speeches.
Harper congratulated his MPs for a job well done in the last year, but he cautioned that the party's vision for Canada and ongoing global challenges means "there can be no resting on the laurels of victory or the satisfaction of accomplishment."
Harper warned that the financial turmoil experienced in the past few years "may not in many countries be a passing phenomenon," and that economic power is shifting in historic ways and that, "we, as Canadians, must decide that we will be on the right side of that history."
The prime minister said last May 2 was a milestone when Canadians gave the Conservatives a "mandate to secure their prosperity," and that's what they are doing.
"Canadians were concerned and are concerned about what a fragile global economy might mean for them. Are their homes safe? Are their jobs secure? Will they be able to look after the needs of their families?" said Harper. "In our campaign, we addressed the dark clouds of their anxieties."
He said his government's plan to get more Canadians back to work is working, and he touted the government's budget that was tabled in March, saying it addresses the concerns of Canadians and acts on the commitments made to them. It will improve access to more jobs, protect the environment, sustain a vibrant economy, and ensure that health transfers to the provinces and the Old Age Security benefit are sustainable programs, according to Harper.
He said having a majority government shouldn't cause Conservatives to lose sight of their priorities.
"A majority mandate cannot change who we are and how we govern. Our values are our values," he said.
"Canada is the best country in the world. Our ancestors have seen to that. Let us get back to work to ensure that under our stewardship, it will always remain so."
Mulcair promises NDP victory in 2015
But as Harper celebrated his party's victory one year ago, Mulcair promised that the majority government will be short-lived and that the NDP will win the next election in 2015.
"Today is the end of the beginning for our new team, but more importantly, it is the beginning of the end for a government that thinks it can ignore the voices of millions of Canadians," Mulcair told his caucus.
He said the Conservatives are plagued with secrecy, scandals and fiscal mismanagement and he listed off promises he said Harper has broken including a pledge not to re-open the abortion debate.
Mulcair also took shots at Liberals, accusing them of being a weak Official Opposition and he said the NDP is a strong opposition party that is holding Harper accountable and putting his government "on the defensive."
"Canadians are counting on us to stand up to Stephen Harper and we will not let them down," said Mulcair.
He said the NDP will force the Conservatives out of power in the next election by reaching out to progressive voters across the country and by showing they are a party with determination and the skills and energy to bring about the changes Canadians want.
Mulcair didn't only talk about the party's future, he also touched on the loss suffered last year when Jack Layton died of cancer.
"We lost a dear friend and an extraordinary leader, a great Canadian in every respect," said Mulcair, who was elected to replace Layton on March 24.
He said the NDP is carrying on the work Layton started and will continue to be a party that not only opposes the government but proposes alternatives.
'Tooting their own horns'
Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae also spoke to the media, with his Liberal president Mike Crawley, about the next phase of the party's rebuilding.
They unveiled the new supporter category of membership that Liberals voted to create at the January convention.
Rae, who took over from Michael Ignatieff after the former Liberal leader failed to win his seat last May, said on Wednesday's anniversary that the party is focused on building and moving forward.
He said if Mulcair and Harper want to "create music by tooting their own horns for the next few days, fine, let them do it. I don't take that too seriously."
Rae said that despite being knocked out of Official Opposition, the Liberals are proving to still be an effective Opposition party in the House of Commons.
"Don't overread your mandate Mr. Harper, don't assume that every Canadian agrees with you, and don't assume that every Canadian likes you, because that's a big mistake for anybody to make in his position," Rae said.
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