Throne speech signals 2015 election
Oct 15, 2013 / 9:55 pm
MPs last seen in the parliamentary precinct at the end of June return to work Wednesday following Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s extension of their summer recess past the Thanksgiving weekend.
The first order of business for belatedly returning Conservatives: the 2013-14 course syllabus.
Harper delayed the scheduled return of Parliament by a full month in order to let a boiling Senate expense scandal cool.
Now, through the office of Gov. Gen. David Johnston, the prime minister will lay out the broad strokes of his governing priorities from a document whose major themes have been widely leaked.
Economic stability, law and order and Canadian historical celebrations will be familiar touchstones for anyone who’s looked at the previous six Conservative throne speeches since Harper came to office in 2006.
Expect fresher material catering to consumers, First Nations training and rail safety, among other themes, as a Conservative government now almost eight years in power and at the midpoint of its first majority mandate seeks the elusive and often over-hyped “reset” button.
The speech will also name Malala Yousafzai as an honorary citizen of Canada. Yousafzai, an advocate for girls’ education and the target of a Taliban assassination attempt in October 2012, met with Harper in New York on Sept. 26.
A July cabinet shuffle, the throne speech and a Conservative party policy convention in Calgary -- now scheduled for the end of October -- are supposed to provide a winning, mid-mandate makeover trifecta, according to Ottawa lore.
But the summer cabinet moves have been all but forgotten even within the press gallery bubble; Wednesday’s throne speech will probably best be remembered for its unfortunate Senate chamber backdrop -- ground zero for the ethics and spending scandal that has rocked the Harper government.
The nature of throne speeches from long-entrenched governments makes it unlikely Wednesday’s version will be a blockbuster.
The brand-conscious Conservatives have already rolled out a fresh round of those “Economic Action Plan” television ads that have blanketed the airwaves since early 2009, at a cost to taxpayers of more than $113 million to date.
And lest anyone confuse the speech from the throne with some overarching national blueprint divorced from partisan politicking, the Conservative party itself was quick to shred that notion Tuesday.
“We’re counting on your support for tomorrow’s throne speech. Are you with us?” said a tweet from the Conservative party, repeated by the prime minister’s Twitter account.
“Tell the Prime Minister you’ve got his back by adding your name,” Fred DeLorey, the Conservative party’s director of political operations, said in an email blast to supporters that linked to a throne-speech-themed Conservative web page.
The page is emblazoned with what appears to be the speech’s title, “Seizing Canada’s Moment, Security and Prosperity in an Uncertain World,” and includes a female voiceover telling visitors “we’re re-dedicating ourselves to a bold and innovative agenda.”
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