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

Pacific Coastal won’t open until community is ready

The company has suspended operations until further notice

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Celebrations continue for Tsilhqot’in Nation after court victory against Taskeo Mines Ltd.

Supreme Court of Canada upholds 2014 decision rejecting New Prosperity mine on May 14, 2020

UPDATE: body of missing man located

Jerret Snow was last seen May 19

Dr. Bonnie Henry given new name in B.C. First Nation ceremony: ‘one who is calm among us’

The provincial health officer was honoured in a May 22 ceremony at elementary school in Hazelton

28 soldiers test positive for COVID-19 after working in Ontario care homes

Nearly 1,700 military members are working in ong-term care homes overwhelmed by COVID-19

B.C. poison control sees spike in adults, children accidentally ingesting hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer sales and usage have gone up sharply amid COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. man with Alberta plates gets car keyed and aggressive note

Some out-of-province people are finding hostile reception due to COVID-19 worries

B.C. drive-in theatre appeals COVID-19 concession rules, 50-car limit

With 50 cars and the removal of concession sales, drive-in owner says theatre might have to close

COVID-19: B.C. grants aim to stabilize sexual assault recovery programs

$10 million fund not yet ready to take applications

B.C. mom’s drug-pricing petition on behalf of son garners thousands of signatures

Petition geared to gaining access to new medicines drew support of Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl

‘Paralyzed by fear’: B.C. woman details anxiety, grief at Italian relief hospital

Sheila Vicic spent two months in Italy as the country grappled with COVID-19

CAMH survey looks at binge-drinking, financial anxiety during COVID

Alcohol may be used as a coping mechanism for those whose careers may have been sidelined due to the pandemic

Most Read