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Throne speech plays up Canadian nationalism   Politics Watch ® News Services
October 16, 2007, updated 8:07 p.m.

The throne speech was delivered in the Senate chamber Tuesday evening.

OTTAWA  (PoliticsWatch.com) —  Asserting Canada's role in the world and mapping the Arctic seabed are among the promises in Canada's Conservative government's throne speech that was unveiled Tuesday evening.  

The throne speech played up Canadian nationalism and made little mention of the U.S. or what is often cited as the No. 1 issue with voters, health care. 

"Canada is the greatest country in the world," proclaims the throne speech, which was read by Governor General Michaelle Jean in the Senate chamber. 

The throne speech makes a bold promise to "complete comprehensive mapping of Canada's artic seabed."

"Never before has this part of Canada's ocean floor been fully mapped."

The promise is most likely in reaction to recent moves by Russia and Denmark, which are also making claims in the Arctic.

In August, two small Russian submarines planted a Russian flag on the North Pole seabed. Denmark has launched a team of 45 scientists to map the Arctic to determine whether the country also has a claim on the North Pole.  

Since then, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made a week-long trip to Canada's north where he made a number of major defence spending announcements. 

The government, which has been criticized by the NDP for what it calls a "militarization" of the Canada's north under its Arctic sovereignty agenda, also included "economic and social development" as part of its Arctic strategy in the throne speech. 

The minority Conservative government also signalled in its throne speech that it does not agree with demands of the opposition parties to have Canadian troops out of Afghanistan when the current mission expires in 16 months. Nonetheless, the government plans to have a vote in this session of Parliament on extending the mission. 

"Our government does not believe that Canada should simply abandon the people of Afghanistan after February 2009," the speech states. 

According to the speech, the government estimates that the mission to fully train the Afghan army and police "should be achievable by 2011." 

Also coming in this upcoming session of Parliament, the government said it intends to introduce measures to strengthen the Anti-Terrorism Act. Two special provisions in the legislation were defeated by the opposition parties when they came up for a statutory review earlier this year. 

"The government will introduce legislation to make sure that Canada has the tools it needs to stop those who would threaten our cities, communities and families," the speech said. 

The throne speech also unveiled the five new priorities of the Conservative government, which has been in power for 20 months. 

> Strengthening Canada's sovereignty and place in the world; 
> Building a stronger federation; 
> Providing effective economic leadership; 
> Continuing to tackle crime; 
> and improving our environment. 

In the current Parliament, the Conservatives need at least one of the three opposition parties to support the throne speech, which is a matter of confidence. 

The NDP and Bloc Quebecois have already said they intend to vote against it. 

"We can't express confidence. (The prime minister is) not going to get a mandate to head in this direction from the New Democrats," NDP leader Jack Layton said in television interview Tuesday evening. 

He cited the government's inability to change its position on the Kyoto accord and the mission in Afghanistan. 

The Liberals have not made a final decision on whether they will somehow prop up the government or vote against the speech and send the country into an election. 

Liberal leader Stephane Dion told reporters he will make his final decision on Wednesday afternoon when he delivers the opposition response to the throne speech in the House of Commons. 

All parties hold caucus meetings on Parliament Hill Wednesday morning. 

"We'll have a very lively caucus tomorrow and we will assess what we need to do and I will communicate our conclusion in my speech," Dion said. 

While the Liberals plan to have a lively caucus meeting, the Conservatives are planning a more laid back event. The party has invited the media into their caucus meeting to see the prime minister deliver a speech to rally the troops for the new session. 

:  Related Links

> Read the throne speech
> Parties prepare for Parliament's return 

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