Former prime minister Paul Martin speaks at a Liberal rally in Calgary, Friday Oct. 3, 2008. Martin told a rally in Stephen Harper's hometown of Calgary that the prime minister `has his head in the sand' and refuses to acknowledge that the country is at risk because of the global economic crisis. Photo by The Canadian Press
He's no longer party leader or even running for office, but former prime minister Paul Martin unloaded a scathing salvo on his former nemesis Stephen Harper at a Liberal rally in Calgary.
Martin, who is serving out the remainder of his term as MP in Quebec's LaSalle-Emard riding, has been taking on a bigger and bigger role in recent weeks as Liberal fortunes and support have continued to drop.
"Mr. Harper said that Canadians are not worried about their jobs - that Canadians are not worried about financing their homes. Well, I don't know what country he is talking about. The Canadians I talk to are worried," he said Friday at a noon hour rally at the Chinese Cultural Centre.
"They are worried about their homes and their jobs and their education and when you look at what's going on in the United States, it's understandable.
"You need a government that is not aloof from the Canadian people, you need a government that understands the needs of Canadians."
Martin has made a number of campaign-style stops in the past month, including events in Toronto, Manitoba, Vancouver and now Calgary.
The former finance minister has remained on topic throughout his events, accusing the Conservatives of squandering a $12 billion surplus which Canada needs now with economic woes on the horizon as a result of the credit crunch in the U.S. and in Europe.
He accused Harper of being "aloof" and "out of sync" with the hopes and dreams of Canadian families.
"Canada is not an island, untouched by the problems that exist in the rest of the world and when there's a credit crunch in the United States and a credit crunch in Europe and when people in the United States are losing their jobs and industries are shutting down, then Canadian exports are going to feel it," he said.
"The fact is if the Canadian government isn't prepared to deal with that, then I tell you they are walking away from the ambitions and needs of young Canadian families and senior Canadian citizens."
Despite the fiery political rhetoric, Martin said he is not having second thoughts about leaving politics. He said he is more concerned with dealing with the challenges facing Canada's First Nations people and those in Africa.
He didn't mention the Liberal 'Green Shift Plan' in his 10-minute speech but told reporters it will result in "a very large tax cut for Canadians" and is the right way to go.
Martin wasn't the only high-profile Liberal visiting Calgary on Friday. Former Ontario premier Bob Rae was meeting with doctors and nurses at Foothills Hospital and was attending a couple of Liberal campaign events.