Fear about the future under anything but a federal Conservative government dominated a surprise visit by Prime Minister Stephen Harper at Pitt Meadows airport Tuesday.
Harper stopped at Sky Helicopters at Pitt Meadows Regional Airport for a party rally and championed his government’s financial record and the possible risk of any departure from it.
Mike Murray, Conservative candidate for Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge, kicked off the event by warming up the crowd.
“Today, we live in a dangerous world, an uncertain world, that threatens our economy, our prosperity and our jobs and everything that depends on those things, our families and those we love,” Murray said.
Seconds later, Harper entered the helicopter hangar to the sounds of blaring rock music, and continued the theme.
“This election is a call to action to protect our economy, to protect our country … to get through this time of increased global, economic insecurity. By joining us this afternoon, you have answered that call,” Harper said.
“Nothing is more important than the security of our country and the security of our economy.”
A balanced budget and prudent spending will ensure that government benefits continue and more jobs, Harper added.
Harper said that global economic instability is a serious risk for Canada, for B.C. and for individuals. The wrong decision on taxes and on the deficit will increase those risks.
After repeating that the “world is an unstable and dangerous place,” and that the global economy is in turmoil, Harper cited Europe’s high government spending has resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs.
But the Conservatives’ long-term, low-tax plan “is the plan that Canada needs for the next four years.”
Harper said Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair are outspending the Conservatives with their election promises.
He said under previous Liberal governments, deficits went on for 30 years.
It only ended with tax increases and cuts to health care and seniors.
“They messed it up the first time. Let’s not give them another chance,” he said.
“And then there’s the NDP,” who he said have made promises of $35 billion a year, to be paid for by modest tax increases.
“You have seen the NDP in action twice [in B.C.] in the last 40 years.”
Each time was economic disaster he said.
In 1990, “B.C. became a have-not province in confederation,” Harper added.
He also said both opposition parties intend on increasing taxes, particularly CPP contributions. That would cost an average worker another $1,000 a year.
“In this time of global economic instability, the NDP and the Liberals would take our economy off track.
“For Canadian families … there’s a lot at risk, a lot to think about,” he said.
“If we mismanage our economy, especially in face of all this instability in the economy around the world, then we can’t afford anything else.”
On the other hand, the Conservatives have increased the child tax benefit, and contributions to tax free savings accounts.
He said the government made contributions to local infrastructure, such as the Evergreen Line and the $500,000 contribution to the Albion sports complex in Maple Ridge, without raising taxes.
“We will make sure keep our borders and country,” continuing to be part of the fight against ISIS, he added.
The largest cheer and standing ovation came when Harper announced that Canada would continue to support Israel’s right to exist.
Liberal MLAs Doug Bing and Marc Dalton were at the gathering along with Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker.
However, Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read was left off the guest list.
“I think our council, regardless of political affiliation, should have been extended the invitation to be there,” Read said.
“I really don’t know why that invitation wasn’t extended.”
The City of Maple Ridge is hosting a debate that will involve the federal candidates.