Throne speech still leaves us guessing, says MP

Stephen Harper’s newly elected government is more “conciliatory,” said Yukon MP Larry Bagnell following Wednesday’s speech…

Stephen Harper’s newly elected government is more “conciliatory,” said Yukon MP Larry Bagnell following Wednesday’s speech from the throne.

But its plan is ambiguous, Bagnell added.

“They’ve listened to the message they got from Canadians — that Canadians want a minority government — and hopefully they’re going to try to make it work,” he said.

“At the moment, I’m optimistic.”

The speech called for increasing incentives for energy-saving home retrofits, a plan that had been introduced by the Liberals but cut back by the Conservatives.

Bagnell praised the proposal to establish a Northern Economic Development Agency.

“Economic development in Canada’s North, led by a new stand-alone agency, is a key element of our Northern Strategy,” said the speech.

The speech focused heavily on the ensuing economic meltdown, but Bagnell said it failed to set a clear path for government action on the crisis.

“I don’t think anyone that sees their pension statement everyday, or sees their RRSPs going down or are worried about their houses or their companies is going to feel any comfort from this speech because they talk about some generalities but there’s no specifics,” said Bagnell.

When the Conservatives were first elected in 2006, they were criticized for focusing too heavily on a concise, specific agenda, and ignoring larger, more general issues.

Also striking was that seven times during the speech the word “provinces” was uttered without being followed by the word “territories,” noted Bagnell.

The issue of climate change was touched on, including plans to implement a North America-wide cap-and-trade system — a proposal that was supported by the NDP and Liberals during the election, but not by the Conservatives.

Some pundits, as well as Environment Minister Jim Prentice have said the Conservative’s change of course regarding cap-and-trade was made largely as a result of Barack Obama’s presidential win. The US president-elect supports the system, as well as tougher greenhouse gas restrictions than those proposed by the Conservatives.

“Our government will continue its realistic, responsible approach to addressing the challenge of climate change,” said the speech.

A “democratic promotion agency” proposed in the speech had come “out of the blue,” said Bagnell.

“A new, nonpartisan democracy promotion agency will also be established to support the peaceful transition to democracy in repressive countries and help emerging democracies build strong institutions,” read Governor General Michaelle Jean on Wednesday.

“Now, when we’re trying to promote democracy around the world, instead of just sending in the troops, we actually have an agency that we can really use to negotiate and build democracy — even if it’s in conjunction with our troops,” said Bagnell,

Contact Tristin Hopper at

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