How many of you listened to Governor General Payette read the speech from the throne? Could you hear the cash register go ching, ching and ching? While no dollar amounts were mentioned you just must know that at least another $250 billion is going to be spent.
How many of you watched the Prime Minister and the other Party Leaders later the same day? I imagine many of you watched, it was a condensed and straight to the point of the hour-long throne speech a few hours earlier.
Parliament was prorogued in August to prepare for a new session and a reset from the last throne speech delivered less that 10 months earlier. We all know what the government and parliament has had to do since March 13th, the economic impacts of COVID-19 have been intense and immense..
In the five weeks from proroguing to the throne speech Canada was turned upside down. The biggest concern we faced was the return of our children to the classroom. There was a shaky optimism, but families were moving forward (with fingers crossed). Without warning COVID case numbers started rising in BC, then Ontario and then Quebec; the roof was caving in on Trudeau government’s plan to announce a recovery plan and its intentions to take a hard left to a green economy and an election.
The government’s messaging slowly changed over the course of a couple of days from a new economy to a cautious approach to recovery to a full defense against COVID-19. What the GG delivered was a rushed third or fourth version of the speech. It could have been written by any parliamentary staff who is given the instructions to’ mention this, that, more of this and more of that and don’t forget to state the how bad a second wave of COVID is going to be’.
In 2014 I was campaigning in Ottawa Centre as the Ontario PC Candidate and we were out the day after it was announced one million jobs would be created by a new PC government. We were mocked at the doors and in the media for promising such a huge number of jobs (along with reducing the government workforce by 100,000 positions). Ontario Liberals said that was a number that could never be proven as being achieved.
From 2014 jump to last year when Trudeau announced 1 billion trees would be planted to fight climate change, 100 million tress a year for 10 years. Now jump to this week’s throne speech, Trudeau promised 1 million jobs. There was no indication they would be new jobs or recovered jobs. The problem with these promises is that the numbers are unrealistic for us to understand. Could Hudak have created those jobs? How many of the 1 billion trees have been planted? Will Trudeau deliver 1 million jobs? Anything less will be a broken promise. These are big numbers and most Canadians don’t think in terms of numbers that big; this will be lost. Most Canadians that are out of work only know of a single number, one, the job they need.
Listening to the throne speech and watching the Prime Minister the thought going through my head must have been ‘he’s thinking about what this speech should or could have been about’. Rather, the Governor General outlined the four pillars for the governments next moves; Fighting the Pandemic, Supporting Canadians and Canadian Businesses; A stronger and more resilient Canada and Standing Up for who Canada is. All these pillars made perfect sense.
Money and more money was announced for current programs, new programs. Missing was the idea that there will be a recovery plan and there can’t be a recovery until we beat this second wave. What did happen though was the threat of an election was pulled off the table, for now. Elections are fought on what should take place in the future, people want a vision. Trying to protect the “now” is not an election campaign theme.
With the Prime Minister telling Canadians the second wave is here now, he’s telling us he’s prepared to stand put until next summer and then he’ll hope that the opposition will have had enough of him. His expectations of a bad fall and winter is not prime election time and Trudeau is lamenting his lost opportunity, for now.
Five weeks of committee work, five weeks of asking the hard questions to the government and their accountability have been lost and all we got out of was a third rate speech.
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