‘Our humble wish that your Excellency is not burdened in future with frivolous requests for prorogation’


The prepared text of Michael Ignatieff’s speech in reply to the Speech from the Throne.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Prime Minister shut down Parliament, he said, to “recalibrate” the government’s agenda. We were told to expect vision, ambition, great plans in the Speech from the Throne.

There is none of that here.

“Recalibration” was a fiction. A flimsy excuse from a Prime Minister who gambled on cynicism and lost.

Canadians saw through it. And our response was clear: Don’t mess with us. Don’t mess with our Parliament. Don’t mess with our democracy.

Everyone in Canada knows why the Prime Minister shut down Parliament. He sought to dodge questions about the Afghan detainee scandal.

But those questions won’t go away.

The government can try to cover up the truth—and they have. They have censored documents. Intimidated witnesses. Slandered whistleblowers.

Now they’re trying to hide behind Justice Iacobucci. But they haven’t even asked him to get at the truth—just to decide which evidence Parliament and the people will get to see—and we still haven’t seen his written mandate.

Justice Iacobucci is the right man for the wrong job.

De ce côté de la Chambre, nous avons été clairs : dans le scandale des détenus afghans, rien de moins que la vérité ne peut satisfaire le Parlement.

Parce que les Canadiens méritent la vérité.

Alors, grâce à ce gouvernement, nous avons un déficit démocratique, en plus d’un déficit budgétaire.

Sur le plan économique, le gouvernement, après plus de deux mois de prorogation avait promis un discours du Trône tourné vers l’innovation et les emplois de demain.

Là non plus, le gouvernement n’a pas livré.

The Throne Speech will only be remembered for one of the most remarkable flip-flops in the history of Throne Speeches—a promise to change O Canada that lasted approximately 48 hours.

The Prime Minister apparently thought to himself, we’re in the worst economic downturn in half a century. 1.6 million Canadians are out-of-work. Our pensions system is in crisis. And Canadian women are still making 72 cents on the dollar.

You know what we need? New words to O Canada.

So the real question is, what’s the next Throne Speech promise to be tossed overboard? Which gimmick will go next?

This Throne Speech is defined by its gimmicks. It’s full of them.

At a time when our seniors need help, what do they get? Seniors Day.

Our veterans? Vimy Day.

We support Vimy Day. We support Seniors Day, too. But does the Prime Minister seriously believe these are adequate responses? Will they even begin to address the challenges that our veterans, our seniors, and our families face?

On jobs and innovation, this Throne Speech doesn’t hold water—it treads water.

Les Conservateurs n’ont toujours pas compris que nous sommes devant une transformation profonde de l’économie mondiale.

Le Canada doit se préparer pour un monde nouveau. L’énergie sera plus coûteuse. La pollution aura un prix. Le dollar canadien vaudra autant que le dollar américain. Le savoir des Canadiens sera notre principale ressource. Et les marchés les plus dynamiques seront la Chine et l’Inde, pas les États-Unis.

C’est dans ce monde que nos jeunes vont grandir et devoir trouver du travail pour nourrir leur famille. Le Discours du Trône est muet sur les défis qui les attendent.

Les travailleurs canadiens comprennent les défis de notre époque.

Mais leur gouvernement n’est pas à l’écoute.

This Throne Speech leaves our shared destiny to chance—to laissez-faire.

Look at healthcare. Our families depend on world-class medical care, diagnostics, and treatment, in every region of the country.

We still haven’t met the challenge of access in rural and remote communities—where families cope with a lack of specialists and mental health services and paediatrics and care for the elderly.

The federal government has a positive—and indispensible—role to play here. We have to work with the provinces and territories and our rural communities to strengthen rural and remote health care—and we have to start now.

That’s the message I got, loud and clear, at our roundtable discussion in Guelph last month.

Our population is getting older. Our workforce is getting smaller. The passage of time will make the strain on our healthcare system more acute and more widespread.

But rather than meet the challenge, this government is running away.

Getting healthcare costs under control is crucial. The long-term solution has to be health promotion, and prevention, and education—so we have more health, and less healthcare.

But there’s nothing here on health promotion or illness prevention or community-based health.

Tommy Douglas used to talk about the “Second Stage of Medicare”—about keeping people healthy, keeping them out of the healthcare system in the first place.

Well, after four decades, it’s about time we got started.

This is the kind of forward-looking policy Canadian families expected, after two months of “re-calibration.” We expected policy to ease the pressures that squeeze our lives.

But what does this government offer? Nothing.

Pour des millions de familles canadiennes, l’enjeu immédiat, c’est de prendre soin d’un parent qui vieillit et d’assurer l’éducation des enfants.

Ces familles sont abandonnées par le gouvernement.

Nous sommes plongés dans une crise des pensions qui menace des millions d’aînés et de travailleurs âgés.

Et quelle est la réponse du gouvernement?

Il crée le Jour des aînés!

Si ce gouvernement crée un jour dédié à tout ce qu’il laisse tomber, nous aurons une année de congé!

À quand :

Le jour des chômeurs?

Le jour du déficit?

Le jour de la vérité?

On ne peut pas bâtir l’avenir sur de pareilles bébelles.

The federal government is responsible for the ties that bind us as one country. This government is casually relinquishing that responsibility.

We must do more—to give life to our compassion, to keep our country together. That’s what we will always stand for, on this side of the House.

But if this Throne Speech is defined by unmet expectations, it is equally defined by missed opportunities.

Nowhere is this more remarkable than on clean energy. This government is missing in action.

You can’t promise a sweeping strategy for innovation and the jobs of tomorrow, and then ignore clean energy and clean technology.

While the world is racing into the future, the Conservatives are blazing a trail to the present.

Rien n’illustre plus clairement le manque de vision de ce gouvernement que son inaction totale en matière d’énergie propre. C’est une approche idéologique qui est en train d’isoler le Canada.

Aux États-Unis, le président Obama investit six fois plus par habitant que notre premier ministre dans la recherche sur les énergies propres.

Au moment où nous nous parlons, les emplois de demain sont créés ailleurs. Soit nous agissons maintenant, soit nous passons la prochaine décennie à le regretter.

Ce gouvernement fait reculer le Canada.

But the missed opportunity of clean energy is even bigger than jobs and innovation—it has indirect consequences for every Canadian industry, and every Canadian family.

Right now, we’ve got oil trading at 80 dollars a barrel—and the world economy is still fighting off recession. Recovery will spur demand, and prices will rise.

High energy costs are good for Canada’s energy sector—for natural gas in B.C. and Atlantic Canada, oil in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

But high energy costs hurt every other sector of the economy, putting jobs at risk—and they hurt Canadian families, when they show up on the heating bill at the end of the month.

This Throne Speech was an opportunity to meet this challenge head-on—to assert federal leadership in making Canada the most energy-efficient economy in the world, powered by renewables, tied together with clean energy infrastructure and “smart” grids.

The government could have made renewable power a national priority, with coordinated efforts from Ottawa and the provinces.

But the Conservatives missed this opportunity, too.

Last fall, they actually cancelled Canada’s flagship federal renewable program, ecoENERGY. In the United States, the comparable program was extended until 2012.

L’approche des Conservateurs en matière d’innovation, d’enseignement et de recherche est un autre rendez-vous manqué avec l’avenir.

Ce gouvernement a sabre 148 millions de dollars dans les conseils de recherche l’an dernier.

Il a coupé 160 millions de dollars à l’Agence spatiale canadienne; il a supprimé le Conseil national des sciences; et il a sabordé 50 ans de leadership canadien en médecine nucléaire.

The Conservatives are renovating university and college buildings, while cutting funding for the research that goes on inside.

And so, rather than make a long-term commitment to building a knowledge economy, the Conservatives giveth, and the Conservatives taketh away.

It’s unclear how the government imagined they could assemble a credible innovation agenda without a comprehensive commitment to learning—starting with world-class early learning and childcare, right through post-secondary and research. Working with provinces and territories to fight illiteracy. Providing enhanced language training for new immigrants.

That’s how we Liberals want to develop a workforce for the new world economy. That’s how we would create opportunities for our kids. That’s how we would invest in Canadians.

Au lieu d’un avenir plein de promesses, ce gouvernement nous annonce des années de vaches maigres.

Les Conservateurs ont promis de geler les dépenses des ministères. Mais quels programmes vont-ils couper? On ne sait pas.

Cet année, c’est l’année du couteau. L’année prochaine, s’annonce déjà comme l’année de la hache.

Ils vont nous justifier les coupures avec la récession. Mais c’est plutôt leur incompétence qui est la cause de notre déficit.

The Conservatives promise cuts and freezes to the programs Canadian families count on. Meanwhile, the government is spending 570 million dollars each year on management consultants.

That’s almost a 200 percent increase over the previous Liberal government, and it’s a waste.

Spending in the Prime Minister’s own department is up 22 percent, more than 13 million dollars.

Meanwhile, the Finance Minister just spent three thousand dollars on a photo-op and a cup of coffee. I hope it was an exceptional double-double.

Le discours du Trône montre le choix devant les Canadiens : d’un côté, laisser-aller, laisser-faire, chacun pour soi, avec un gouvernement qui ne vous offre que cinq ans d’austérité, de coupures, et de gels.

De l’autre, une alternative libéral. Nous croyons qu’un bon gouvernement peut protéger les gens d’aujourd’hui, et préparer un avenir d’emploi et de créativité pour demain. Nous croyons dans un gouvernement qui unit les Canadiens, et non les divise.

The choice for Canadians is becoming clear.

On the one hand, laissez-faire and cuts. On the other hand, a government that believes in uniting Canadians around the shared national project of readying our great people, for the opportunities of tomorrow.

Ce discours du Trône aurait pu être un investissement dans l’avenir des Canadiens. Dans les soins de santé et les pensions. Dans les énergies propres et l’innovation.

Mais ce n’est pas la voie choisie par ce gouvernement. Il a choisi les gadgets, les coupes aveugles et l’idéologie du laissez-faire.

Ce n’est pas un Canada qui nous ressemble. Ce n’est surtout pas un Canada qui nous rassemble.

Un Canada fort et uni; un Canada éduqué et en santé; un Canada vert et ouvert sur le monde; un grand Canada, riche des plus grands espoirs et des rêves de sa jeunesse.

C’est ce Canada que nous voulons bâtir avec les Canadiens et que nous voulons célébrer.

This Throne Speech wasn’t just disappointing—it was unnecessary. It was damage control, after the Prime Minister shut down Parliament. Every paragraph makes that clear.

And so now, therefore, I move that the motion be amended, by deleting the period and adding the following:

…and offers our humble wish that your Excellency is not burdened in future with frivolous requests for prorogation.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


‘Our humble wish that your Excellency is not burdened in future with frivolous requests for prorogation’

  1. Not exactly Lincoln at the Gettysburg, but not bad. There's a nice rhythm to it.

    • Yup, better than I expected from Ignatieff.

      • Hear hear, very good work. Forceful, content-rich, direct. Good job.

        I could wish, though, that they would publish speeches without the sentence fragments speechwriters use to pace text as it's to be spoken. For instance:

        The government can try to cover up the truth—and they have. They have censored documents. Intimidated witnesses. Slandered whistleblowers.</blockquote

        should be

        The government can try to cover up the truth—and they have. They have censored documents, intimidated witnesses, slandered whistleblowers.

        or better yet

        The government can try to cover up the truth—and they have. They have censored documents. They have intimidated witnesses. They have slandered whistleblowers.

        This last is better for the spoken version too. By the time you get to the third verb, you've forgotten the subject.

        • This is Twitter-ready blog-ready English. Morsels. Bite sized. Lots. Of. Periods.

          • Indeed. And thus viceregal-answer fail.

  2. Why do I get the feeling that, at some future date, should Ignatieff become PM, those last words may come back to haunt him?

    Must just be me being cynical.

    • They will haunt them without him NEVER becoming PM….

  3. "The Conservatives promise cuts and freezes to the programs Canadian families count on. Meanwhile, the government is spending 570 million dollars each year on management consultants.

    That's almost a 200 percent increase over the previous Liberal government, and it's a waste.

    Spending in the Prime Minister's own department is up 22 percent, more than 13 million dollars.

    Meanwhile, the Finance Minister just spent three thousand dollars on a photo-op and a cup of coffee. I hope it was an exceptional double-double."

    Ignatieff needs to keep hammering away at things like this.

  4. Just out of curiosity, will the record show the many times the poor Speaker was called Mister today?

    • Why wouldn't Peter Milliken be called Mister? He is the Speaker, after all…unless, for some reason, Denise Savoie was filling in as his Deputy. But otherwise, calling Milliken "Mister Speaker" is entirely accurate.

      • That she was… Front and centre!

        Harper corrected himself about twice (over the roughly 20 times I heard him refer to her as Mister). In fact, it was funny, at one point he started off with Mister, corrected himself and went with Madam, then no less than one sentence later, back to Mister!

        I know its nitpicking as the man was clearly reading off a sheet (for the most part)… But it is disrespectful to Savoie. After all, he's suppose to be ''speaking'' to her.

        • They shouldn't have sheets. They should be forced to memorise or speak off the cuff. If that makes it shorter, so much the better for us all.

          • Hear! Hear!

        • Huh…in that case, I stand corrected!

          (And Jack is correct…sheets are props, and props are technically a no-no!)

  5. "burdened with frivolous requests…"
    What, she can't be bothered to answer the phone for a 10-second-long prorogation request?

    Joking aside: Anyone else notice how Ignatieff seems to focus on provincial responsibilities – health care, education, daycare, etc – and not a word on defense, foreign aid, international affairs, trade with other countries, etc?

    Then I thought, maybe he shies away from those subjects because his views are much too similar to those of the Conservatives?

    • The so-called "Three Sisters" resonate more with the Liberal base and particular pockets of voters to which they want to appeal than do defense and foreign affairs.

      The former are what Liberal governments past have put a lot of focus on (to what degree of success is not for me to declare); could be signalling (or floating a balloon?) a return to contemporary Liberal policy.

      • I expect it is partly to do with the fact the Liberal, or more precisely, Mr. Ignatieff's defence and foreign policy positions are pretty much indistinguishable from those of the government, and partly to do with the general lack of interest the public has with any defence or foreign policy issues, no matter how important they may be. With the exception of the elections of '63 and '84 foreing affairs and defence have played very small roles in the electablity of any government, and even someone of Mr. Ignatieff's political skills would recognize there isn't much electoral headway to be made on any of those fronts.

        That doesn't excuse his failure to address those issues seriously, of course. They are at the heart of the role of the federal government. But it is not surprising that he avoids the issues. (Other than the predictablecheap shots about the Taliban prisoner "scandal".

        • I'd argue that the public has a great deal of interest with the millions of dollars they donated to the Haitian Relief fund (that the government claimed – and has yet to follow through on- a dollar-for-dollar-ish match), Canadians' role on the world stage, and our current role in Afghanistan.

          It just doesn't appear that they vote along those policy lines. Possibly, because such issues aren't seen to directly impact the lives of Canadians on a day-to-day basis.

          • I think you are right, in that Canadians are frequently interested in foreign affairs, and military issues, as in the case of the public response to the Haitian disaster, and as evidenced by Mr. Wherry's fascination (monomania?) over the fate of Taliban prisoners. As you say, however, such interests rarely rise to the level of concern sufficient to drive voting intention. Which may explain Mr. Ignatieff's reluctance to say much of substance on such issues.

    • Ha, bet you must have had a better snooze through Harper's throne speech then? No? But, but it was so much longer …

      • Yes but the comedy was much better in Harper's! Unfortunately he prorogued the punchline at the end…

  6. Gad, only the Liberals could stoop this low:

    And so now, therefore, I move that the motion be amended, by deleting the period and adding the following:

    "…and offers our humble wish that your Excellency is not burdened in future with frivolous requests for prorogation."

    Only the Liberals would try and force the PM to use the indicative ("is not burdened") when, obviously, a "humble wish" requires the subjunctive ("not be burdened")! Only the Liberals would try and make Harper sound like a babbling, uneducated IDIOT.

    • LOL! Good catch.

    • Alternatively:

      …and offers our humble wish that His Excellency not burden us in future with frivolous requests for prorogation?

      Not sure about the grammar…a bit too presumptuous perhaps?

    • awww, so finally the chattering classes reveal themselves!

    • Jack can always be trusted to expose the low points in our democracy.


      (Geez, I shure hope my spelin and gramer are hokey-dokey up in that there sentence)

  7. OKay, not bad on the gimmicks stuff. Okay speech overall but one line ruined it for me:

    "Don't mess with us. Don't mess with our Parliament. Don't mess with our democracy."

    That "don't mess with me" stuff sounded stupid the last time, and now he's using it again. Does he think that makes him sound like an ordinary Joe? A Texan?

    • I agree. We all know MI couldn't knock the skin off a rice pudding, metaphorically speaking. It's not playing to his strengths, he should dump that stuff.

    • Yup. Mr Ignatieff, you should not confuse me with an ardent supporter of you or the Liberal Party. But I humbly ask you to accept this observation with the graciousness with which it is offered: You have a mole in your speechwriting department. "Mess with" should not be uttered even once in 2010, given how poorly that phrase turned out for you in 2009. You are most welcome.

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