Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke to approximately 200 supporters at the Horizon North industrial site on Monday, Sept. 14. The main subject of Harper’s address was the recently released budget report, which showed the Conservative government had maintained a $1.9 billion surplus for the 2014-15 fiscal year. Harper stated that the surplus was the result of an increase in revenue and that the government “predicted a mild deficit but it’s actually a surplus.”
Harper referred to Canada’s economy as “an island of stability” compared to the rest of the world, citing Greece’s debt crisis as an example.
“The wrong decisions now on taxes, on deficit, on spending will cause real economic damage … the security and the protection of our fragile economy, for our Conservative government is job number one,” he said.
Harper went on to criticize the NDP’s past provincial government track record.
“In B.C., you have seen them in action, you know what they did to this province. You can only imagine what they would do to this country,” Harper said in criticism of the B.C. NDP governments of the 1990s.
Alongside statements about the budget, Harper repeatedly referred to low taxes as a key component of the Conservatives’ economic plan.
“Your money belongs to you, not the bureaucracy in Ottawa,” he said.
When asked about the proposed twinning of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, which runs through the Kamloops area.
“The pipeline will go through a rigorous environmental and scientific assessment process and the government will make its decisions based on that. We don’t make any secret of the fact that we want to see resource development, but it must be safe for our economy and for our environment.”
In January, Horizon North laid off 130 employees, 48 of them in Kamloops, as a result of $48 barrels of oil. The commodity briefly recovered, but now sits at around $44 per barrel – something any newly elected leader would have to deal with.
Harper was also asked if he could provide any assurance of job security for the remaining Horizon North employees.
“I am certainly aware, being from Alberta, of the negative impact of the falling oil prices on the oil and gas sector … and on parts of our industry that are dependent on that sector. It is very concerning for us. “That is why we are making affordable effective investments, keeping our taxes down and our budget balanced.
“Tax hikes do not balance budgets. Tax hikes kill jobs.”
Harper’s visit was greeted by approximately 20 protesters, mostly from First Nations groups and postal workers opposed to the end of door-to-door mail delivery. Protesters carried signs which read “no more lies – Harper say your goodbyes” and “Harper: Canada’s Nixon.”
Kamloops Conservative candidate Cathy McLeod introduced Harper. North Okanagan–Shuswap Conservative candidate Mel Arnold, senator Nancy Greene- Raine, Kamloops City councilor Pat Wallace and Tk’emlups Indian Band chief Shane Gottfriedson were also in attendance.
Protesters gathered outside of the event and stayed for the duration. (Photos Sean Brady/The Omega)