Local MP Elizabeth May said she “is happy with much of what is” in Wednesday’s Speech from the Throne, but also questioned the federal government’s commitment to follow through on its promises.
“There are lots of good initiatives here, but it is more of an aspirational document of hopes and dreams than anything you can take to the bank,” said May Wednesday afternoon from Ottawa. If pushed, May said that she would personally vote to support the government. “But we (Greens) make our decision by consensus.”
May said she her fellow federal Green MPs Paul Manly and Jenica Atwin had a brief chance to consult, comparing notes. “We decided that we need more time to think, more time to read it over, and we don’t have to vote right away,” she said. “We have some days to debate before we vote.”
Wednesday’s throne speech – delivered by Governor General Julie Payette in the chambers of the Canadian Senate – saw the federal minority government of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau extend and expand various programs designed to fight the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic for both employers and employees, as well as sectors hit hard by the pandemic such as tourism.
With these measures including the extension of the wage-subsidy program scheduled to run out, the federal government aims to create one million new jobs. The speech also saw the government promise additional funds toward a vaccine and other measures, including environmental measures.
May for her part is relieved that the federal government is not embarking on a course of austerity in recognizing the realities of the pandemic.
Wednesday’s speech kicks off a new parliamentary session with the federal Liberals clinging to power as a minority government and tainted with the WE Charity scandal that eventually led to the resignation of former finance minister Bill Morneau. The speech itself became necessary after Trudeau had asked and received for a prorogation of Parliament.
The speech — and with it, the government itself — now faces a vote of confidence. May for her part does not think it is the unofficial starting gun of a federal election campaign.
“Believe it or not, I don’t think anyone in Ottawa is as reckless as (New Democratic leader) John Horgan,” she said. “I don’t think this Speech from the Throne is trying to prompt, provoke a snap election. There is enough in here (for the government to survive a vote of confidence). I’m sure (New Democratic leader) Jagmeet Singh will vote for this and I’m sure he will take credit for it. That’s fine. I’m happy with much of what is in here.”
This said, the Greens as a caucus may not support the government. “But it would be a much harder vote if we thought our three votes would determine whether Canadians would go to the polls or not,” she said.
But May also recommended later that her comments about the possibility of a snap election should be taken with a big grain of salt. “I don’t know if Justin Trudeau hasn’t just fooled us all and he wants to go to a snap election, but I don’t see it.”
Of course, this is also 2020.
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