MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Stephen Harper's speech to a large Muslim conference on Friday was billed as prime ministerial, not political, but he still managed to squeeze in some Conservative messaging on Canada's fight against terrorism.
The Conservative leader did not do any formal campaigning Friday, choosing instead to address to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at, Canada's largest national Islamic convention, which kicked off a three-day conference in Mississauga.
The prime minister, who has Canadian warplanes bombing Islamist insurgents in Iraq and Syria, took the opportunity to embrace a Muslim group at home.
He praised the Ahmadiyya community for accepting Canadian ways, but he also spoke of terror threats.
"Last October, we had the brutal experience of ISIS-inspired violence on our own soil," he said, a reference to the deadly Oct. 22 shooting on Parliament Hill.
"As we all know, these shocking acts were perpetrated by killers claiming to act in the name of Islam. How important it was that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at Canada quickly, categorically and unequivocally condemned the attacks and the terrorist who committed them."
He also thanked the group for its campaign against youth radicalization.
"By your words and by your actions, Canada's Ahmadiyya community has earned the respect and the admiration of all Canadians."
Harper earlier spent some time in Toronto shooting new TV ads.
He also put on his prime minister's hat and seized on the latest government finance data as proof that his government's economic plan is working.
The Department of Finance's monthly Fiscal Monitor reported a $5-billion surplus for the April-to-June period this year.
In a "statement from the prime minister" released by the Conservative party, Harper said the numbers show that his Conservative government is ahead of the game on its budget plan.
"This means that we're actually ahead of the game on our budget plan, while at the same time delivering historic tax relief directly to Canadian families," he said in the statement. "That's good for Canada and good for the economy."
The report says the federal government posted a surplus of nearly $1.1 billion for June alone, half a billion less than in the same month last year.
Federal program spending increased by $1.6 billion from a year ago to $21.3 billion in June, partly due to the universal child care benefit, but the rise was offset in part by a drop in public debt charges.
Harper has been urging voters to stick with his program of lower taxes and a balanced budget, while scorning his opponents as spendthrifts who will raise taxes and upset the economy.
His opponents, on the other hand, brushed off the Fiscal Monitor data as misleading and not up to date. They said the books are already in a deficit.