Barrie’s two Members of Parliament could use some longer language in the Throne Speech.
Both Barrie-Innisfil MP John Brassard and Doug Shipley, MP for Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte, said last week’s Throne Speech missed the mark on a number of Conservative priorities, or just didn’t include them.
“What was left out of the Throne Speech was probably most disappointing,” said Brassard, serving his second term of office in Ottawa and the deputy opposition whip.
“The actual meat of the Throne Speech I was a little disappointed in. There were a few things that weren’t in there that I would have hoped I would have heard a bit more of,” said Shipley, a rookie MP, who nonetheless enjoyed the pomp, pageantry and ceremony of the Throne Speech.
The Speech from the Throne opens every new session of Parliament, introducing the government’s goals and direction – and how it will work to achieve them. In this case, that would be Prime Minister Justine Trudeau’s minority Liberal government – elected by Canadians in a national vote Oct. 21, 2019.
This Throne Speech speaks to climate change solutions, making life more affordable for Canadians (a middle-class tax cut, increasing the Canada Child Benefit), banning military-style firearms, cracking down on money laundering, a pharmacare proposal and building the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
How this is rolled out by the Liberals, when and at what cost remains to be seen.
Both Shipley and Brassard stressed what was missing.
Dealing with national unity or regional divides, the economic/energy crisis in Western Canada, agriculture, protectionism, tariffs and the British Columbia forestry sector, to name a few.
“The devil will be in the details on a lot of this stuff,” Brassard said, “but what they (the Liberals) did seemingly do – I don’t know how many times it was mentioned – they basically threw all their chips in and have gone all-in on the issue of climate change. So this is a government which is seemingly focussed in making its mandate solely about climate change.
“But they really didn’t discuss any of the other issues,” he said. “Not just regional issues, but also Canada-wide issues, major issues that are important to Canadians, there was none of that discussed in the Throne Speech itself.”
Shipley said he has fiscal concerns about the Throne Speech’s message, or lack thereof.
“I didn’t hear anything on a plan to balance the budget, which being a strong fiscal Conservative, it’s obviously very important to me,” he said. “I think we have an economic issue looming and we need to make sure we’ve got our house in order for that. The good times don’t last forever.”
Shipley said an economic slowdown could be coming, pointing to bankruptcies as an example.
“People need to have their own personal affairs in order, but so does the government, and I’m not sure they have over the last few years,” he said. “If we’re heading into hard times, that’s when it gets even more difficult, if you haven’t been balancing the books up till then.
“A tax break we (Conservatives) applaud and support. We think Canadians are over-taxed. But we don’t have the details on that yet.”
Brassard noted the Throne Speech is an aspirational document, designed to create an overview of where the government wants to go, under its current mandate.
It’s expected to be voted upon in the House during the week of Jan. 27, 2020.
The Throne Speech is a confidence matter, which means the government could fall if it fails during a House vote. Both Shipley and Brassard have said there is no appetite for another election in the near future.
The Conservatives have put forward a series of amendments to address the issues that were neglected in the Throne Speech, Brassard said, issues like affordability, natural resources and energy.
“Our hope is that it will be addressed and supported, but it will be up to the government to decide if they do it,” he said.
Shipley would like to see more on national unity.
“We’ve got a country that’s divided right now. And I didn’t hear a lot of strength in there (the Throne Speech) as to how we’re going to regain national unity from coast to coast,” he said. “That’s important. Canada is a strong country and we need to keep it that way.”
After hearing the Throne Speech, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer blamed the Liberals for Canada’s unity crisis and said Trudeau learned nothing from having his majority government trimmed to a minority in the federal election.
Scheer also said tough economic times in Alberta and Saskatchewan, caused by stagnant commodity prices and pipelines at capacity, weren’t addressed adequately by the Throne Speech.
banner image: Barrie-Innisfil MP John Brassard signs in for a second term of office, as a member of the Office of the Clerk of the House of Commons looks on, last week in Ottawa. (contributed photo)