Yesterday millions of Canadians watched the 150th throne speech given from the Senate chamber in Ottawa. This is the second throne speech after the last one given in December to open the 43rd parliament session.
The minority government promised to tackle almost every sectorial problem in Canada, in a proposal also know as the “ambitious plan for an unprecedented reality.”
The 54-minute speech given by Gov. Gen. Julie Payette left no stone unturned. Payette gave a speech that promised to do everything at once. From child care, supporting emerging businesses and investing in infrastructure to managing the opioid crisis and creating more jobs, all the while dealing with the gravest modern public health crisis.
A throne speech is set to open every new parliament session. It outlines an agenda and provides statements of intent of the federal government’s plans and how their goals will be achieved.
That being said, Payette said that in order to reverse economic damages, the first priority should be bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control.
In order for the government to work towards fulfilling these goals, they need a confidence vote from at least one major opposition party.
However, regardless of the content of the speech, analysts predicted the obvious: the Conservative party had their blistering rebuke ready to speech.
Conservative deputy party leader Candice Bergen addressed the nation shortly after the speech and said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “had an opportunity to present a real plan to Canadians, and he didn’t do that.”
Bergen said the Liberals should abandon the “Ottawa-knows-best” approach because it is “out of touch with Canadians’ needs and provincial powers.”
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said in order to give a confidence vote, his party has two demands.
The first one is to make sure the Liberal government promises to not end the Canada Emergency Response Benefit in exchange of an expanded employment insurance program that will come into effect on Sept. 27. The second condition is introducing paid sick leaves.
“I’m saying we need to see some actions to back up these words,” Singh said. “We’ve not decided yes or no on the throne speech.”
As for Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, who is currently in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19, he said his party will give Trudeau’s government one week to meet provincial funding demands for Quebec. Otherwise, Blanchet said the party will make a no confidence vote.
Thunder Bay-Rainy River Liberal MP Marcus Powlowski said it would be highly irresponsible for any political party to, at this time, bring down the government.
“If the opposition parties want to bring down the government, then they are going to have to accept responsibility for the fact that in the midst of one of the greatest national crises in the last 100 years, they chose to stop governance for a couple of months while we all go trying to win votes. Decision making becomes more difficult, and with the new government it takes a few months to get it going again,” Powlowski said.
“In a year when we have the vaccine, we can start playing politics as per usual. At the moment all of us have to be more conscientious to do the right thing because there are lives on the line.”
The throne speech is set to face a confidence vote in the House of Commons. With the Conservatives declaring their no confidence position, the fate of the Liberal minority government relies on at least one confidence vote from Singh or Blanchet.
No date has been set for the vote yet.