Tories speeding toward election
OTTAWA—The Harper Conservatives will hit the gas pedal this week in the race toward the next election in 2015.
But the opposition parties are vowing to push down hard on the brakes in reminding Canadians about what they call the government’s lapse in ethics in the Senate.
The speech is expected to focus on bedrock Conservative issues—creating jobs and rebuilding the economy—with particular themes targeted at creating employment opportunities and providing job training for aboriginals in the resource sector.
But several consumer-friendly measures also will be incorporated into the blueprint document, designed to counter proposals expected from the Opposition New Democrats and Liberals.
Those measures also are aimed at turning the attention of voters away from the Senate spending controversy that has seen several Conservative appointees and one Liberal taken to task over their travel and living expenses.
The sales pitch will include measures directed at alleviating consumer irritants, such as a plan to force cable and satellite TV providers to adopt a pick-and-pay price model in conjunction with the bundled channel payment plans they currently offer.
The Tories also hope voters will appreciate moves to create an airline passenger bill of rights—designed to compensate people who are inconvenienced when air carriers overbook flights.
There also likely will be references to increasing competition in the wireless sector and to capping domestic cellphone roaming fees.
But the government is not expected to say much about Senate reform, waiting instead to hear back from the Supreme Court of Canada about a reference that asks whether the red chamber can be reformed—or even abolished.
The throne speech will include a handful of new promises to further crack down on crime.
But don’t expect any big new initiatives that would risk spending lots of money or that cannot be completed in time for the election, say insiders.
Public safety and protecting the environment also likely will go hand-in-hand in segments of the speech that touch on the Lac-Megantic derailment disaster and recent oil pipeline leaks.
But even that will be a balancing act as the Harper Conservatives hope to convince Canadians that getting oil and other commodities to market is essential to creating jobs and economic wealth.