Yesterday's Throne speech paints a picture of a government in confusion, desperate to regain the favour of the Canadian public. The government that came to power professing the power of the market promises increased government interference in business, more government giveaways. The government which promises to balance the budget promises to reduce revenues before relieving debt. This is the Throne Speech we expect of a Conservative government readying itself for a Liberal government to come in and clean up its decade of financial irresponsibility.
At thorough review of this speech would take several pages and you will be besieged over the next several days with analysis from the media and the spin masters. However, there are two things that I think truly reflect the nature of this governments plea to Canadians to like them again.
The first came in their discussion about consumer protection. It is clear the Justin Trudeau has been heard when he reminds us that "the Harper Conservatives have neglected the most pressing issue facing the country – the fact that middle class Canadians have not had a decent raise in 30 years." It is also clear that the government is far too timid to address this directly. Instead it reverses its reverence for corporations and the market with fuzzy promises to reduce mobile roaming costs, cable television bundling, payday lenders and the cost of banking services. In effect, the government promises to add new regulations and other market interference to the telecommunications and banking industries.
It seems the government has taken a page from the NDP. Look away from the real issues and scream that business is the culprit. This is a strategy that we expect from our orange colleagues, not from our blue ones.
The issues faced by the Canadian middle class cannot be solved by effectively implementing cost controls on our telecommunications and banking sectors. As consumers, we know without doubt that companies like Bell, Rogers and the banks will make sure that our savings in one area will more than be made up in new costs in another area. These issues can only be addressed by careful economic strategies that go beyond flashy gimmicks. Canada needs a nation industrial strategy that focuses on our strengths. We need a government which will review our trade relationships with the US, Europe and Asia that allows Canada's natural advantages in population and health care to lure investment and jobs which will buoy the middle class.
On a more positive note, it was good to see the Harper government state unequivocally its agreement with the Liberal Party on the strength of Canada's relationship with Israel. The Throne Speech includes the statement "Our Government defends Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, the lone outpost of freedom and democracy in a dangerous region. And our Government stands opposed to those regimes that threaten their neighbours, slaughter their citizens, and imperil freedom. These regimes must ultimately be judged not by their words, but by their actions." It is good to know that while the government is willing to give up on its core principles, it is willing to hold on to some. It is good to know that on some things, Conservative will agree with Liberals.
It is hard for a government to keep its focus after almost a decade of governing and the pressure is showing. The plan to distract Canadians from their true issues is underway. But the Liberal Party will continue to listen to Canadians and keep a laser focus on the true issues. The job of the government is not to pander to special interests and bribe citizens. It is to create an environment for opportunity and success.