Justin Trudeau Affords Extensive Array of Guarantees With Few Specifics
One thing became clear in the 54 minutes it took Governor General Julie Payette to read the speech from the throne this week: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is once again making many great promises after withdrawing his pledges in last year’s elections.
“It was like, wow, they promise everything,” said Lori Turnbull, director of the School of Public Administration and associate professor of political science at Dalhousie University in Halifax. “It was almost like this: when does she stop reading? But after that you think, OK, there are also some big questions that they haven’t answered. “
Catherine Porter and I identified some of the speech’s greatest promises in our report.
[Read: Trudeau Promises Bold Plan to Reset Canada, and His Political Career]
Mr Trudeau said in his post-speech TV address that low interest rates and Canada’s comparatively low debt gave him the opportunity to borrow money to pay part of it. But there was little to nothing in the speech about what all of this could cost.
Professor Turnbull said these responses will become clearer after Chrystia Freeland’s fall finance update, her first major event as Treasury Secretary.
One of the big unanswered questions was what will replace the popular government emergency aid program when it expires. Many expected that Mr. Trudeau would introduce a guaranteed minimum income. Instead, the prime minister said changes that he failed to detail would come to unemployment insurance along with other measures against income loss.
François Delorme, an economics professor at the University of Sherbrooke Business School, wasn’t surprised that Mr. Trudeau didn’t put in place a minimum income plan. Such a plan would include eliminating 38 ongoing programs, said Professor Delorme, a former federal ministry official. Making these changes would require a buy-in from the provinces – a not unimportant matter.
“I don’t think it’s politically feasible even if it might be economically justified,” he said.
The speech linked the economic recovery from the pandemic with the government’s fight against climate change. However, Professor Turnbull noted that there was only a vague indication of how the natural resources and energy sectors could adapt.
“It’s about a greener economy, but what is it for the West?” She asked. “And what happens to the oil industry, fossil fuels, how do they fit together?”
Professor Turnbull said she expected Erin O’Toole, the new Conservative leader, to answer these questions quickly.
Overall, Professor Turnbull said the Speech from the Throne was so full of promise that it was less of a legislative agenda than Mr. Trudeau’s pitch to Canada to put his Liberal Party in control of the next election. And above all, it was a strong statement of the prime minister’s intent.
“He doesn’t nickel-plate and doesn’t tinker, he doesn’t tinker with the edges,” said Professor Turnbull. “He wants a real, meaningful change. I am not saying this as an expression of support for him. I’m just saying he’s a great thinker, that’s what he makes. “
Karl Dockstader, who co-hosted a radio show on indigenous issues, reported on a large land claim demonstration until he received an email from Ontario Provincial Police. When he showed up in one of his departments the next day, Mr. Dockstader was arrested and released on condition that he no longer go to protest. Four reporters covering indigenous protests were recently charged by police. This action was challenged by journalists and civil rights groups. [Read: An Indigenous Canadian Journalist Was Covering a Protest. Then He Got Arrested.]
Dan Bilefsky, my Montreal-based colleague, has researched the global acceptance of British Columbia wines, a trend that contradicts Canadian rules that make it difficult to buy in the rest of Canada. [Read: Canada’s Napa Valley Seeks Elusive Audience: Canadian Wine Drinkers]
While the pandemic continues to devastate part of the United States and its president dodges questions about a peaceful transfer of power after the November elections, should he lose, Hannah Beech writes that, among many people around the world, Canadians are “with a mix” watching shock, anger, and above all confusion. ” [Read: ‘I Feel Sorry for Americans’: A Baffled World Watches the U.S.]
Many Canadians perked up this week when Schitt’s Creek, the CBC comedy series, emerged as the big winner at this year’s Emmys. [Read: Canadians Rejoice as ‘Schitt’s Creek’ Sweeps Emmy Awards]
Carol Schram, who covered the NHL playoffs in Edmonton, noted that “an adaptive mindset for all parties, from top managers to stadium workers, was crucial for the expanded postseason of 24 teams during the pandemic”. [Read: For the N.H.L. Bubble to Succeed, Everyone Had to Be Flexible]
Ian Austen is from Windsor, Ontario. He was trained in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has been reporting on Canada for the New York Times for 16 years. Follow him on Twitter @ianrausten.
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