The Liberals are back in the House of Commons, at least for the next few days.
Yesterday, a rag tag group of socially distant Liberal MPs (and a few opposition ones as well), honoured Parliamentary tradition and trudged across Wellington Street in Ottawa to stand like supplicants at the back of the Senate Chamber. There, they heard the Governor General deliver the “Throne Speech” to launch the Forty -Third Session of Parliament.
There were no surprises in the Speech for the Liberals who had penned it. The Opposition Parties summoned up shock and dismay and, “We’re off” as they say at the track. However, the betting is that there will be no Fall election, none of the Parties can afford it and the public doesn’t want one mid- Covid.
But in remarks delivered last evening, the leaders of the Conservatives and the Bloc took a small gamble indicating they would not support the Government in the “Confidence Vote” which will conclude the Throne Speech Debate. If the NDP follows along (their Leader was being coy last night), Canadians will be at the polls in 45 days. In truth, the dastardly Conservatives and perennially unhappy Bloc Quebecois handed a gift to the NDP giving them the power to save Trudeau or bring him down. They gave that “gift” knowingly. The price of NDP support will be expensive left-wing goodies which the Conservatives look forward to raging against in an Election fight down the road, just (they hope) not now.
The Throne Speech, true to form, was long on platitudes and short on specifics. Those details will follow in a Budget which the Liberals will finally table in the weeks ahead. They have run out of excuses for not doing so (since March is when these are usually passed) and they have run out of names to call something that isn’t quite a Budget (Fiscal Update, Mini Budget, Fiscal Snapshot).
In the Throne Speech and in the Prime Minister’s remarks last night, the Government acknowledged the impact of the pandemic and that Canada is not out of the woods yet, and that in fact we may be entering a dangerous phase. (For proof of the scope of infection, one need only look to the Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole who is in isolation and his Bloc counterpart who is as well).
The Government announced four themes that will guide it in this new session of Parliament:
- fighting the pandemic and saving lives;
- supporting people and business “whatever it takes”;
- “to build back better” to create a stronger more resilient Canada; and
- “to stand up for who we are as Canadians”.
Under each of these headings the Government described a range of measures. While this inspiring laundry list can be found in the link to the Throne Speech below, “the devil is in the details” and full costing is to come.
The Liberals are direct in stating their belief that Canada has all kinds of fiscal room to do what the Liberals want done. The Bloc will want more (and without conditions) for Quebec. The Conservatives will scorn the Liberal’s fiscal management. This is an activist agenda intended to garner the support of the NDP so that the Liberals can govern for a while longer. But stay tuned, the NDP wants more. At least some things reman predicable.
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