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

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

APRIL 3: Air show cancelled, B.C. Ferries reducing sailings

Peace Arch News ad sparks discussion about value of community newspapers

White Rock resident hopes front-page note shines light on revenue loss during COVID-19 crisis

Surrey parents, students navigate remote learning during COVID-19

The Surrey school district teachers are slowly rolling out plans for new way of educating

Surrey MLA Jinny Sims cleared of criminal wrongdoing

She resigned her cabinet post during RCMP investigation

Surrey councillors say halt policing transition as 2,000-plus workers laid off

City of Surrey has reportedly laid off 1,900 part-time auxiliary workers and 140 full-time employees because of the pandemic

From inside the ER: B.C. doctor tells it like it is from the frontlines of COVID-19

‘Stay home. It’s working,’ says ER doctor in a Q&A discussion, ‘And please don’t worry.’

Don’t stop going to the doctor, just do it virtually: B.C. association

Doctors encourage patients to access telephone, online visits

BREAKING: COVID-19 case diagnosed at Abbotsford rehabilitation residence

First Abbotsford care home to have confirmed COVID-19 case

Businesses advised to prepare for federal, B.C. COVID-19 assistance

Canada Revenue Agency portal expected to open next week

Dogs are property, not kids, B.C. judge tells former couple

Court decision made on competing lawsuits over Zeus and Aurora — a pit bull and pit bull cross

B.C. senior gives blood for 200th time, has ‘saved’ 600 lives

There was no cutting of cake for Harvey Rempel but he’s challenging youth to start donating blood

Trudeau commits $100M to help food banks amid COVID-19 crisis

Funds will help ‘urgent food needs’ for Canadians awaiting federal emergency benefits to kick in

Captain America joins friendly Abbotsford Spider-Man to take down trash

Local garbage crew bringing smiles to city amid pandemic

Most Read

l -->