Martha Hall Findlay laid out her vision for Canada and the Liberal Leadership Campaign in her launch speech on Wednesday, November 14 in Calgary, Alberta. Read the full text below.
Good afternoon. It’s great to be here in Calgary.
I’m Martha Hall Findlay, and — I’m sure you’ll all be surprised — I am running for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada.
Canada is a great country. We Canadians are incredibly lucky. But we know that Canada can be better. We can achieve greater prosperity, with purpose, and real equality of opportunity, for all Canadians — something which we don’t yet have.
To get there, Canada needs smart, strong – and courageous leadership.
But leadership doesn’t happen just because you say so. It doesn’t happen by just talking about values or principles. Real leadership is by example.
Canada should once again be leading by example. And to do what’s right for Canada, we need the Liberal Party to lead by example. And for that, the Liberal Party needs a leader who does the same.
Every couple of weeks during this campaign I will set out a detailed policy position for discussion and engagement – much of which will be focused, of course, on the economy. And you all know that there will be plenty of substance.
Today, however, is about why I’m here.
To lead, you need to be smart.
Canada must have intelligent government, acting to achieve real solutions, not based on some ideology or for domestic political advantage,
To lead Canada again, the Liberal Party must prove to Canadians that it, too, is smart, with policies based, not on some outdated view of what is “right” or “left” or even some undefined “centre”, but on evidence – on facts. Based on an understanding of economics, global markets, investment – and people.
But you’ve heard that before – the challenge for the Party is to not just keep saying it — the Party needs to prove it.
And for that, the Liberal Party needs smart and experienced leadership.
I finished high school at 15, have degrees in International Relations and Law, got really good marks. Some say, wow – she’s smart. Well, yes, I am. Many people are. But smart alone isn’t enough. You also need experience – and when the economy is the most important issue facing Canadians, we need smart leadership that has experience in business and economics, as well as politics. As a lawyer, I worked on big international transactions. As a senior executive, I managed large teams of people, both in Canada and abroad. As an entrepreneur and successful business owner, I met plenty of payrolls.
That’s the kind of smart and experienced leadership, in times of economic challenge, that the Liberal Party, and Canada, needs.
WE also NEED GUTS
Canada has, courageously, led by example before: Canadians have fought bravely in WW1, WW2, the Korean War and of course in Afghanistan. Our men and women of the Forces show courage every day.
At home, in our early days, we built a railroad across the country, against all odds.
Later, we had the courage to be bold, ahead of our time, by creating a national health care system, the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security.
But Canada now, desperately, needs a government with a different kind of courage – the courage to take on real debate. To be transparent – and I mean truly honest, transparent and accountable to Canadians. To engage with dissenting voices, not shut them down by cutting their funding or regulating them away.
The Liberal Party proved in the 1990s that it had the guts to do what was right, fiscally and economically. It was tough, but it was right.
We must show that kind of courage again. The Liberal Party must have the courage to no longer try to be everything to everyone– we must stand for what we believe is right. Not everyone will agree all the time, but only by doing so will we gain people’s trust and confidence.
And – of course — for the Liberal Party to show that kind of courage, it needs to have its own courageous leadership.
I was, once upon a time, a ski racer. Some would say that screaming down a hill at 120 klicks is gutsy. Crazy, maybe. (And trust me, it hurt like hell when you fell going that fast.) But it was what I did to compete, successfully.
In 2006 there were some who questioned my run for leadership. But soon most were calling it gutsy. Before long, people were coming up to me, all the time, to say how much I inspired them — and [and this is wonderful for me]— their daughters.
Fast forward a few years: friends advised that a major research paper calling for the dismantling of supply management was way too risky for a politician. Risky indeed. But it was also the right thing to do, and the reaction, all across the country, urban and rural, has been extraordinary. Except for a few politicians (not a surprise) and the dairy lobby (even less of a surprise), the response has been universally positive.
WE NEED TO COMPETE
This is where Canada’s future lies. Putting up walls, trying to avoid the challenges of globalization will only shrink us and take us backward. We need to embrace global opportunities. And Canada is one of the countries – if not the country in the world – best poised to take advantage of global markets for greater prosperity.
Our natural resources and energy abound – and the world needs them.
We have a highly educated work force. Almost every Canadian has come, at some point, from somewhere away, which makes ours the most multicultural, multi-linguistic, multi-capable population in the world. What an opportunity in today’s world of international business and trade!
To lead, the Liberal Party must also compete. Rather than reacting, we need to act. We need to step up, and show why we’re better than the alternatives.
We need to take on Thomas Mulcair right where it counts, and where he is the weakest – the economy. We need to take on Stephen Harper, take the fight to him, not just wait and react defensively to the next round of attack ads.
We live in a competitive world. In most aspects of our society, particularly our economy, you need to compete to succeed. And we should.
I’ve competed all my life, in academics, in business – and in politics. And I look forward to competing in this campaign. But let me return to skiing for a moment. It was an incredibly individual sport — as soon as you stood in that starting gate, you were competing against everybody – your friends, yourself — everybody. But the only way one got to be in that starting gate was by working as a team, with friends spotting when doing weights; sharing video footage; cooking together while on the road. Interesting —– A hugely individual and competitive sport, where you could only succeed with teamwork.
Let me also say — and this is a message for Stephen Harper— competing is not the same thing as winning at all costs. Good competition includes good sportsmanship, hard work, playing by the rules, and respect for others. That’s how Canada wins. That’s the Canada, the successful Canada, where we all win.
Finally, it’s about YOU — about US
You want a country that reflects you. Who you are. What you care about. What you aspire to, for you and your kids. You know that the economy is key, because of what prosperity can do for you and your family — as well as for others.
You understand the importance of competition and the market, but you want to help those who need it.
You care about pollution and worry about climate change.
You care about honesty and democracy.
You care that we are falling behind economically. You care that our income gap is widening. You care that we are an embarrassment when it comes to the environment. You care that our government becomes more secretive by the day.
To lead the Canada that reflects you, that you are proud of, you need a government that reflects you, too. I want the Liberal Party to lead once again in reflecting, promoting – and acting on –those things that most of us – that you and I — believe.
I have three kids. I’ve worked as a waitress and in construction. I had huge student loans. I care about water quality. As a business person, I know that scary feeling when the numbers sometimes gets close. I’ve had to lug work home from the office so I could do dinner and homework with the kids, only to nod off – many times — at the computer late at night.
I know the value of mixing cut up hot dogs with Kraft Dinner.
We, together, want a Canada that is ours. We want a Canada that we’re proud of, on all fronts. I ask for your support, because together we can make it happen.