Thomas Mulcair painted the Tory federal government as being big on corporate tax cuts for the rich and small on compassion for everyone else while he was stumping in Surrey on Friday.
The Leader of the Official Opposition spoke before a roomful of South Asian business people at the Ashiana restaurant in Newton, just off Scott Road.
"The NDP will work to give a better break to the next generation because right now we've seen the middle class in Canada, for the first time in history, doing less well than the generation before," Mulcair said.
The wealthiest 20 per cent of Canadians over the past 35 years have seen their income grow while the rest have seen their income decrease, he noted. "That's statistics Canada that tells us that. That's the first time that's happened. It's not normal. Every generation hopes to leave more for the next generation. If this continues, we'll be the first generation to leave less. But that's the message Stephen Harper wants you to have - that we have to settle for less."
He said the NDP presents a "positive vision" that would create jobs and develop the economy in a sustainable way.
Recently radio airwaves have been bombarded with Tory attack ads characterizing Mulcair as a tax-happy bogeyman.
"It's going to sound like an irony, but generally speaking when the other party's only approach is to criticize what you're doing, it's because you're doing pretty well," Mulcair said in response to the ads.
The Tories launched similar attack ads against former Liberal leaders Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff, apparently with some success.
"Our strategy is to take them on straight up," Mulcair said. "We stand up to them every day in the House of Commons. They're not used to having someone push back when they try to bully. When someone like James Moore tries to shout at me, believe me, he finishes second."
"Don't let anybody tell you the NDP doesn't want more prosperity, we just want prosperity for everyone, that's the big difference between us," Mulcair said. "There are a lot of powerful interests in society that try to influence governments, but the only powerful interest the NDP will ever be answerable to is the public interest."
The NDP leader said the Canada that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is projecting on the world is not recognizable to Canadians and cited Tory immigration policy as an example. Before the Tories took power, he said, Canada invited people in and allowed them to become Canadian citizens.
"Now we have a government that has a policy of having over three hundred thousand temporary foreign workers in our country, and that's a shame," Mulcair said. "We're repeating errors of the past, bringing people in, deprived of their rights, forcing wages down for everyone, that's not the way of the future."
As far as foreign policy is concerned, Mulcair charged that the Conservatives "are isolated on the world stage" and "they want us to be isolated as a country," whereas the NDP wants to work with all other countries to build a better world.
Since taking power, Mulcair told the gathering, Harper's government has removed environmental safeguards and brought in a $50 billion tax cut to the richest corporations.
"They've added $150 billion to the debt since they arrived," he said. "When they came to power seven years ago, there was a $26 billion trade surplus in Canada. Right now, there's a $50 billion trade deficit in Canada."
Mulcair noted that here are some things that identify how you are doing as a civilization. "I find that in a country as rich as Canada it's simply unacceptable to have hundreds of thousands of seniors living below the poverty line. We can't allow that. The full amount that it would take to bring every senior in this country above that line is $700 million. When you look at where that can be spent otherwise in the government you realize in the overall scheme of things it's not hard to find that money, if you make that a priority."
In Canada 800,000 children go to school without having had anything to eat, he said. "That's totally unacceptable." Taking $13,000 out of seniors pockets and telling them they have to work two more years, he added, is also "totally unacceptable."
Mulcair also suggested the Conservative government does not have as firm a grip on the economy as it projects.
"Our economy is becoming unbalanced. It's like losing some of the shock absorbers," he said. "It's not going as well as the Conservatives would like to have us believe."
Mulcair called on his audience to support his party in the 2015 federal election.
"We're going to face Stephen Harper with an optimistic vision for Canada," he said. "Most Canadians share our vision, share our goals."
The NDP, he said, has "a very large tent."
"And we've got to bring in as many people as possible, because we do think that Stephen Harper is dismantling large parts of the Canada that we know and that we used to be so proud of."
The MP for Outremont, Quebec, also waded into provincial politics here on the West Coast.
"Here in British Columbia, the orange wave starts this May when Adrian Dix forms an NDP government here in B.C.," Mulcair said.