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
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
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
"Our government does not believe that Canada should simply
abandon the people of Afghanistan after February 2009," the
According to the speech, the government estimates that the mission
to fully train the Afghan army and police "should be achievable
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
> Strengthening Canada's sovereignty and place in the
> 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
"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
All parties hold caucus meetings on Parliament Hill Wednesday
"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,"
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
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