Harper’s Throne Speech sets pragmatic tone for Canada

Opponents of Canadian prime Minister Stephen Harper will need to wait longer to see if he progresses an extreme agenda.

Instead Prime Minister Stephen Harper claimed Canadian identity is linked to the environment and described pluralism as essential for democracy as Canada’s Governor-General read the Speech from the Throne Friday that will set the agenda for Harper’s first ever majority government after five years of minority rule.

Jobs and growth will remain the government’s top priority during the next term while the global economy remains fragile with risks to recovery. An aging population will also place a burden on pensions and healthcare making it a priority to reduce both the fiscal deficit government expenditure once a comprehensive special spending review is undertaken.

Other stated priorities will be to pass copyright legislation ‘’to balance the needs of creators and users’’ and targeted investment for research and development both in the private sector as well as in education.

The Throne Speech promised a digital economy strategy as well as continuing free trade negotiations, notably with the European Union after 2012.
Canada’s environment featured several times in the speech without a mention of climate change.

Instead, environmental protection was stressed as necessary for the health and security of Canadians with the natural environment cast as an essential part of Canadian national identity. To this end the government would pursue national conservation for all Canadians to enable Canadians to ‘’communicate better with the environment.’’

The utility of environment was expressed in his next breath as the Governor-General mentioned that government’s commitment to energy projects such as the green light for the Newfoundland and Labrador Lower Churchill Falls hydro-electricity generation project that is projected to provide 3,074 MW of power.

Similarly the government expressed its support of Canada’s agricultural, fishing, forestry and manufacturing industries and particularly Western Canada’s farmers to be able to sell their wheat on the open market.

Government announcements to improve Aboriginal livelihood was perhaps unexpected and investment in education both for children and adults and better land management were also key announcements as was greater access to clean water for First Nations.

A key part of the opposition Liberal platform during the election was also touched upon with the announcement of providing money to caregivers, members of the family who take time from work to look after family members.

Harper’s Throne Speech also called for Canadians to take pride in their history, suggesting that as a people they would only be limited by their ambitions and imagination.

Foreign policy was the only remaining plank and praise for Canada’s troops in Afghanistan was complemented by Canada standing with its allies to protect civilians in Libya.

Perimeter security with the United States, Canada’s largest trading partner, ally and friend remains a priority for Stephen Harper which he said should open the border for a faster flow of trade with its southern neighbour.

The government will also need to introduce its omnibus crime legislation that seeks to roll all law and order issues into one bill.

In a Throne speech that otherwise promised little in the way of specific details, Canadians if the not the world will need to hear Finance Minister Jim Flaharty’s budget speech on Monday to see what a majority Harper government will quite deliver.