Cross Country Checkup

What do you think of the government's priorities in the throne speech?

Speech from the throne: The new Liberal government made it official Friday, as it laid out the agenda for its first session of Parliament. With so many election promises to choose from, what do you think of the government's priorities? With guest host Diana Swain.
The speech from the throne is read by the Governor General in the Senate chamber. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Speech from the throne: The new Liberal government made it official Friday, as it laid out the agenda for its first session of Parliament.

A speech from the throne is resplendent in Parliamentary tradition, and this one -- opening Canada's 42nd Parliament -- offered that and a little more.

Indeed, there was an added sense of occasion that after nearly 10 years of Conservative rule, things are going to be different now.  Ironically that's pretty much the same tone that was struck during the first throne speech of the Harper government when it chased the Liberals out of office after their 13 years of rule. Such turnovers don't come often in Canadian political life, but when they do they are imbued with renewed hope.

A new government, a subdued opposition and a very different dynamic in the House of Commons, chock full of rookies. The determination to make things work better could be seen in the smiles on the faces, and sensed too in the measured manner in which any criticism of the new government was phrased. Everybody is learning to adjust to new roles--not wanting to be the first to revert back to the days of angry partisanship.  Many are wondering just how long the knives will remain sheathed.

A throne speech is the moment a government sets out its agenda for a new session of Parliament -- a signal to the nation of what to expect, in concrete terms of direction and priorities.

The challenge of this speech was to pick from among the 300 promises, by some estimates, the Liberals had made during the long election campaign. It would be the first real indication for Canadians of what this government considers its main "first out of the gate" priorities?

With so much expectation, observers were surprised at the speech's brevity. Only about 30 of the Liberals' election promises made the final cut ...still an ambitious agenda. And the wording was generous enough not to overly restrict the goals with specifics and timelines. 

When the opposition parties voiced their concerns afterwards, they naturally focused on what had been left out. Conservative interim leader, Rona Ambrose, pointed out there was little said about business, especially the troubled auto, energy, and agriculture sectors, and no reference to fighting ISIS.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said there was no mention of changing back the retirement age; nor of restoring home mail delivery; no word on Bill C51; nothing on childcare; and he added it seems like they will cut the military. 

Our question: "What do you think about the government's priorities set out in the throne speech?"


John Ivison
Columnist for the National Post newspaper 

Lise Ravary
Columnist and blogger for Le Journal de Montreal. 

Dani Saad
Online community manager for the True North Times,

Jen Gersen
Columnist and reporter National Post newspaper


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