April 19, 2024

Verbatim: Excerpt from a speech by Pierre Poilievre to the Canada Strong and Free conference


Excerpt from a speech by Canada’s Leader of the Official Opposition, Pierre Poilievre, to the Canada Strong and Free conference in Ottawa on April 11, 2024.

If you want to know about (the) common sense Canadian way, take a walk in the town center of Saskatoon. Why? There are two reasons. One, because Saskatoon is my mother's hometown, so it's a historic place, a very important place. The second reason is that you'll see a beautiful pair of statues together of a paper boy named John Diefenbaker selling a newspaper to Wilfred Laurier. Laurier was in Saskatoon on July 29th, 1910.  

Dief is out in the streets selling newspapers. Along comes the prime minister, who that day was laying a cornerstone at a college of the University of Saskatchewan. Laurier actually buys a newspaper from this kid, gives him 25 cents…when 25 cents was a lot of money. So, the two of them talked for a little while. Laurier later recounted this conversation with this young whipper snapper, and before (it) could come to an end Dief, being a good conservative, said to himself “I'm not making any sales right now. I’ve got to wrap this up.” So he said: “Sorry, prime minister, but I can't waste any more time with you. I have more newspapers to sell.” There you had a future prime minister who was a paper boy. Do you think these two guys had nothing in common?

One was a Liberal, the other was a Conservative. One was a French Catholic. The other was an English speaking Baptist. One was a Quebecer. The other was a prairie boy. Their terms (in office) were separated by almost half a century. But in fact they had plenty in common. They both believed in the common wisdom and the common sense of the common people.

Laurier was asked what Canada's nationality is. In most places, a leader in that time would have defined nationality based on religion, ethnicity or some other demarcation line. But he could do no such thing because even back then, over a century ago, we were all mixed up. We had, of course, the First Peoples. We had the French, the English, the Scots, the Irish, Asian immigrants were already starting to arrive on our shores so we couldn't define ourselves by ethnicity. We had Catholic and Protestant and the arrival of new religions to our continent and to our country. And so (Laurier) defined Canada and its nationality the following way. He said: “Canada is free, and freedom is its nationality.”

Diefenbaker would later sign the Bill of Rights and on it he would write: “I am a Canadian, a free Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship God in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all of mankind.

Both (Laurier and Diefenbaker) believed in our ancient liberties that we had inherited passed down over 800 years from 1215 (in) the Magna Carta, all the way to now. Liberties for which they believed we are the custodians. They were not the owners of that liberty. They were simply the guardians whose job it was to take the torch and pass it on. As Edmund Burke explained: A contract between the yet the dead, the living, and the yet to be born.

They weren't there to reinvent the universe. They didn't think they were the living embodiment of God, that they could engineer humans and populations and recreate some brave new world. They inherited the great gifts (of our) ancestors. They understood Canada wasn't perfect just as we look at our history today and acknowledge it wasn't perfect. You know what, though? Whenever we have gone wrong, it is because we have gotten away from basic principles of human freedom and favored too much state coercion and control, not the other way around.

That common sense consensus guided our country for its first hundred years. It went into hibernation between about 1967 and 1984 and then it reawakened with the election of (Brian Mulroney)who reversed the course in the previous decade and a half course.

If you think I just want to praise (Mulroney) because he was on the (Progressive Conservative) blue team, I will say that the (Liberal( Chretien and Martin governments carried on and accentuated all (Mulroney’s) policies. If we can be even more nonpartisan about, we have to give Jean Chretien credit because he cut the CBC right? And that was a great idea.

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