Gov. Gen. Julie Payette reads the speech from the throne in Ottawa on Dec. 5, 2019. (The Canadian Press)

VIDEO: Federal Liberals’ throne speech welcomes opposition’s ideas

Trudeau will need NDP or Bloc support to pass legislation and survive confidence votes

Justin Trudeau ushered in a new era of minority Liberal rule Thursday with a throne speech brimming with humility, goodwill and promises of collaboration with opposition parties whose support he needs to ensure his government’s survival.

The effort worked, at least insofar as guaranteeing the government will win a vote on the throne speech. Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet said his party’s 32 MPs will support it, despite serious reservations about its content.

The eight-page speech from the throne is mostly penned by the Prime Minister’s Office, but read by Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, who inserted a bit of flavour from her days as an astronaut.

“And we share the same planet,” she said in a passage emphasizing co-operation.

“We know that we are inextricably bound to the same space-time continuum and on board the same planetary space ship.”

The speech overall offered few details of Trudeau’s agenda for his second mandate, beyond reiterating Liberal campaign promises: stronger action to fight climate change, lower taxes for middle-class Canadians, beefed-up gun control, steps towards national pharmacare and investments in infrastructure, public transit, affordable housing and health care.

But it also made pointed references to issues that are dear to the NDP and Bloc. The Liberals will need the support of at least one of those two parties to pass legislation and survive confidence votes.

Universal dental care, one of NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s priorities, was cited as an idea “worth exploring” and one that Parliament was encouraged to look into.

In a nod to one of the Bloc’s priorities, the government promised that dairy farmers impacted by recent trade agreements will be “fully and fairly compensated” — with many receiving their first cheques this month.

Moreover, the speech emphasized that the government “is open to new ideas” from opposition parties.

The speech was more about tone than substance, attempting to demonstrate to Canadians that Trudeau’s Liberals — reduced to 157 seats, 13 shy of a majority, on Oct. 21 — have heard the message sent by voters after a particularly nasty, hyper-partisan campaign.

READ MORE: New Liberal minority government neither the strongest nor the weakest minority

“Parliamentarians: Canadians are counting on you to fight climate change, strengthen the middle class, walk the road of reconciliation, keep Canadians safe and healthy, and position Canada for success in an uncertain world,”Payette said. ”And with goodwill, humility and a willingness to collaborate, you can do just that.”

The speech also recognized indirectly that the Liberals were shut out in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada’s oil and gas heartland where anger over Liberal environmental policies has fuelled talk of western separatism.

“The government has heard Canadians’ concerns that the world is increasingly uncertain and that the economy is changing,” Payette said. “And in this context, regional needs and differences really matter. Today’s regional economic concerns are both justified and important.”

The speech noted that “a clear majority of Canadians voted for ambitious climate action now,” and reiterated the Liberals’ pledge to maintain the national carbon price and achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Net zero means greenhouse gas emissions are reduced so much that the remaining emissions can be absorbed by natural or technological means, leaving none to remain trapped in the atmosphere.

There was no direct reference to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, which is opposed by the Bloc, New Democrats and Greens as antithetical to the fight against climate change. The Trudeau government purchased the pipeline to ensure the project, which is to carry Alberta oil sands crude to the B.C. coast for export overseas, goes ahead.

Andrew Scheer, who is facing an internal battle to hang on as Conservative leader, condemned the speech for failing to admit Trudeau’s responsibility for triggering a “national unity crisis” and putting the boots to the energy sector with misguided climate change policies and environmental bills.

ALSO READ: Gender parity in Trudeau’s new cabinet

He said he’ll propose an amendment to the speech Friday, which would essentially replace the Liberal agenda with a Conservative one, including repealing Liberal environmental legislation and committing to creation of a national energy corridor. Scheer declined to say whether the amendment will amount to a confidence test for the government, which will depend on how it’s worded.

Singh said the NDP’s 24 MPs will also be looking for amendments, but of an entirely different nature. He condemned the speech for offering nice words but little concrete action on the issues that matter most to Canadians, like pharmacare and affordable housing.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kicking Horse Update Monday January 20

Kicking Horse reports 2 cm of snow in the last 24 hours,with… Continue reading

Highway Update January 20

Highway 1 is closed just east of Revelstoke according to DriveBC due… Continue reading

Ktunaxa, supporters celebrate protection of Qat’muk and the Jumbo valley

Speeches, acknowledgements and ceremonies mark an emotional gathering in Cranbrook

Jumbo Valley to be protected, ending decades-long dispute over proposed ski resort

Development rights permanently retired for site of proposed year-round ski resort west of Invermere

Wrangle the Chute returns to Kicking Horse

Wrangle the Chute will be returning to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort from… Continue reading

Man dies in backcountry near Nelson’s Whitewater Ski Resort

The victim was found unresponsive in a tree well Friday

Cariboo Memorial Hospital back to normal after cold weather wreaks havoc

Burst pipes and water leaks cause three different incidents

Dog reunited with Tofino owner, months after being taken from beach

Shannon Boothman ‘ecstatic’ at pet’s return after a tip leads to social media search

Huawei exec’s extradition hearing begins in Canada

China’s foreign ministry complained the United States and Canada were violating Meng’s rights

Prince Harry: ‘Powerful media’ is why he’s stepping away

Prince Harry and Megan have stepped away from their royal commitments

How to beat Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year

Multiple factors can play a role in seasonal depression, says Fraser Health psychiatrist

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

Most Read