A New Beginning and a New ‘Attitude’ in Parliament
It is always a highly-anticipated event to signal the launch of Parliament and set-out the Government’s forthcoming agenda. Yet Canadians listened to Governor General Michaëlle Jean deliver this week’s Speech from the Throne with an underlying sense of gravity and urgency.
In the midst of this tumultuous global economy, Canadians need assurance that the Government of Canada will provide prudent leadership based upon strict fiscal management while also inspiring hope for the future. A tall order to fill.
However, that is what Prime Minister Stephen Harper has delivered, and why he insisted that Parliament resume just over a month after the October 14th election.
Canadian families and businesses are facing new challenges that couldn’t wait to be addressed. Mindful of the privilege and responsibility Canadian voters bestowed upon us with a renewed and strengthened mandate, our Conservative Government will follow a five-point plan to protect Canada’s economic security.
We’ll work with our trading partners to reform the global financial system. With the top-ranked banking system in the world, Canada can play a leading role in this international effort.
2. We’ll ensure that Canada does not return to ongoing, unsustainable deficits by putting ALL federal expenditures under the microscope. Tough decisions are needed to keep spending under control.
3. We’ll work to secure jobs for families and communities, supporting workers facing transition by ensuring that existing programs and services are as effective as possible.
4. We will help these workers and troubled industries by working to expand trade opportunities and enhancing the competitiveness of Canadian businesses by modernizing investment, competition and copyright laws.
5. And we’ll redouble our efforts to reduce red tape and improve the way all federal programs and services are delivered so that they serve Canadians better.
For Prince George-Peace River, the Speech from the Throne means a renewed commitment to build upon labour, training and economic diversification initiatives arising from the Community Development Trust, the $129-million federal fund delivered to the Province of British Columbia to help struggling forestry workers and their communities.
We will also bring jobs to northern Canada by reducing regulatory and other barriers to extending the natural gas pipeline network.
With the assistance of the provincial government we can also realize our commitment to have British Columbians democratically select their Senate nominees.
This will all require cooperation and consensus among ALL MPs. As Government House Leader, I feel that Government Whip Gordon O’Connor and I, along with the House Leaders and Whips of the opposition parties, are off to a good start in fulfilling Canadians’ expectation that this minority Parliament take on a more collaborative approach.
Furthermore, MPs themselves seemed to deliver a warning that they prefer more discipline and a better functioning chamber this week. They chose experience and continuity by re-electing Liberal Peter Milliken as Speaker in the House of Commons, but only after a dramatic five-ballot marathon.
When Finance Minister Jim Flaherty delivers his Economic Update later this month, MPs will have a golden opportunity to prove to Canadians their commitment to cooperation for the greater good of the nation.