POLITICS

Here are five things to know from Prime Minister Stephen Harper's speech Monday

09/15/2014 04:45 EDT | Updated 11/15/2014 05:59 EST
OTTAWA - Five things to know about Prime Minister Stephen Harper's speech Monday to caucus and party supporters:

— The campaign is underway: Harper usually welcomes his caucus back to Ottawa in a speech on Parliament Hill, but this one was styled as a campaign rally to rev up Tory energies not just for the fall sitting of the House of Commons, but for the coming 2015 election.

— Playing to strengths: Harper spoke about the economy, consumer rights, criminal justice reform and foreign policy, all points of pride for the Conservatives and the planks upon which they're likely to build their campaign.

— A hint of what's ahead: the Conservatives will seek to wrap up unfinished legislative business during this sitting, especially on those bills which were part of last year's throne speech. Harper alluded to several priorities, including sentencing reforms for repeat offenders, giving Canadians more choice on how they pay for TV and the conclusion of several free trade deals.

— A tough stance on Ukraine, ISIL and Israel: Harper's aggressive foreign policy approach is a product of principle and politics. He will use his firm stand to juxtapose himself with his rivals, casting them as unprepared for international statesmanship.

— No naming names: Unlike in previous speeches, Harper made no mention of either opposition leader, though he clearly alluded at one point to comments about terrorism by Justin Trudeau — a sign, perhaps, that Conservatives are wary about giving the Liberal leader additional media exposure.