Tory backers gathered on Archie Lang’s property Thursday night for a rally and speech from Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a private event.
The location was kept secret from the general public, and an estimated 3,000 invitations were sent out to Yukon Conservative supporters. The crowd totalled somewhere closer to 200 people.
With the Yukon River flowing behind him and children sitting on hay bales next to the podium, Harper delivered a speech lasting about 30 minutes focusing on the economy, security and Canada’s role in the world.
Harper mentioned the NDP in passing, though never the name of leader Thomas Mulcair, instead focusing on the Liberals and Justin Trudeau, whose name, on occasion, drew calls of “shame” from the crowd.
Harper warned that the “other side” will attempt to pull the wool over the collective eyes of the nation in the upcoming federal election.
“You know, you can listen to the liberal elites and the liberal media pundits and the liberal interest groups, and you can see the plan,” he said.
“Tell Canadians there’s something ‘new and exciting.’ What is it? Well, just close your eyes and dream, and don’t ruin it by asking any hard questions.”
Harper praised his government’s economic record, saying the Canadian financial system is the soundest in the world.
“So how did we do this?” he asked the crowd.
“Well, not by raising taxes. Certainly not by imposing schemes like a carbon tax.
“Instead, we’ve lowered taxes, for families, for job creating businesses, for all Canadians, and we have done it over and over again.”
He said his government went through the “entire budget, line by line,” and asserted that under his watch the government has not grown in size.
Critics, meanwhile, have argued the Harper government has added upwards of $160 billion to the national debt while Canada’s growth rate has slowed to 1.4 per cent.
Harper also trumpeted his government’s “tough on crime” agenda.
“For too long our criminal justice system was twisted to make the rights and the welfare of the criminal its central concern. So we said: do the crime, do the time.”
Despite crime falling steadily in Canada since the 1990s, the Harper government has seen a proliferation of mandatory minimum sentences. Critics have also expressed concern over a lack of resources for handling mentally ill offenders.
Harper also addressed Canada’s role in the world, championing the importance of taking a strong stance on international issues and speaking out against “Putin’s thugs” and Hamas.
“When we work with allies, and stand by friends, like the Kurds, or like Israel, against terrorists and extremists, like Hamas and ISIL, that is Canada at our very best,” he said.
The event marked the end of day one of Harper’s six-day tour of the territories. Attendees at the rally included Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski, Yukon Conservative MP Ryan Leef, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq, and others.
Harper’s speech was briefly interrupted when a large dragonfly landed on his chest.
Contact Sam Riches at