The leaders of Canada’s main political parties sparred Thursday night at a debate, the second of the 11-week election campaign, hosted by the Globe and Mail and held in downtown Calgary.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, seeking a fourth term, is locked in a tight three-way race ahead of the Oct. 19 vote; polls show his Conservatives trail Tom Mulcair’s New Democratic Party and Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.
Here are the money quotes from the 90-minute session, which focused on the economy.
- Mulcair on Harper’s policy of relying on natural resources for growth: “Mr. Harper put all his eggs into one basket then he dropped the basket.”
- Harper on job losses in Alberta, home of the oil sands, which elected an NDP government to run the province in May: “Here in Alberta we had a round of layoffs because of low oil prices and now we’re having a round of layoffs because of higher taxes.”
- Trudeau to Harper on the need for public transit: “What Canadians can’t afford is to continue to be stuck in traffic every morning because there’s no reliable transit because the federal government hasn’t stepped up as a partner. You’ve been stuck in a motorcade for the past 10 years.”
- Mulcair on Harper’s 2012 announcement, made while attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, about overhauling Canada’s old age security system: “You didn’t make that announcement to a group of hard-rock miners in Sudbury; you made that announcement to a group of billionaires in the Swiss Alps.”
- Harper on surging home prices in Canada: “No doubt there are some people who are overextended. I think the housing story is a very positive story in this country.”
- Mulcair on his challengers’ economic prescriptions -- Harper’s to maintain low taxes and spending constraints, Trudeau’s to run deficits to spur growth: “Mr. Harper wants to hit the snooze button while Mr. Trudeau wants to hit the panic button.”
- Harper on health care for refugees: “We do not offer them a better health-care plan than the ordinary Canadian can receive. That is something that both new and existing and old stock Canadians agree with.”
- Mulcair on Harper’s record on pipelines: “Under Stephen Harper’s stewardship we have not built one kilometer of pipeline to tidewater and it’s easy to understand why. He’s gutted a series of environmental laws."
- Harper on the state of the Canadian economy: “I’ve never said things are great. What I’ve said is that we’re living in a very unstable global economic environment. In the last 10 years where would you have rather been in all of this global economic instability than Canada?”