The Commons: Carry on then

The Speech from the Throne: a tribute to keeping at it

So welcome to the next four years. Presuming, as one probably shouldn’t, that the Prime Minister intends to keep to a fixed-election law that has the odd nuance of not actually fixing anyone to anything.

However long he intends to put off the next election, you can be reassured—or horrified, depending on your particular political viewpoint—that he plans to carry on as he has. As ably read into the record by the Governor General this afternoon, the Speech from the Throne was a tribute to keeping at it. Meet the next few years, same as the last few years. If you preferred the preoccupations of the recent past, you will mostly enjoy the short term future.

Where to begin? How about with a “stable, predictable, low-tax environment?” Or would you prefer that the government “continue to cut red tape for small business?” No matter, the government commits to pursue both and simultaneously at that.

Free trade. Foreign investment. A national securities regulator. Reducing the cost of government. Eliminating the long-gun registry. Fuming about the Canadian Wheat Board. Senate reform. Tax credits for every human action imaginable. The North. All your old favourites are still here: the Harper Government’s greatest hits.

The government will fight terrorists and criminals and human smugglers. It will promote human rights and religious freedom. It will complete the highway between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk.

Which is not to say, of course, that the government is to be of limited perspective. As the title of the document declares, it is “Here for all Canadians.” As the subheads printed in bold and italics specify, this includes jobs and growth and eliminating the deficit and hard-working families and standing on guard and law-abiding Canadians and communities and industries and integrity and accountability.

Which is not to say that it will all be work and policy and careful public management. There will, for instance, be parties—like next year when we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. Presumably there will be cake. And children will be invited to burn and ransack their own miniature versions of the White House.

The word “continue” appeared 24 times. The words “revolutionize” and “overhaul” seemed to have been entirely edited out. And for those of you keeping score of adjectives, “strong” bested “stable” by a score of five to three.

In response, the official opposition seems equally resolute. According to the traditional Huffy News Release from Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, the government “failed” today to address “many key issues.” On the plus side, at a mere 35 minutes, this year’s edition of the Speech from the Throne was something less of a dirge than usual.

So there we are. If you are disappointed by the lack of surprises so far, recall that the last time the government aimed to spice up this traditional testing of the Governor General’s literacy, the nation was nearly thrown into civil war along gender lines at the prospect that the national anthem might be edited.

The day’s excitement was instead provided by a 21-year-old Senate page who decided to prematurely end her internship with a small protest of the Prime Minister. Her sign read “Stop Harper.” If it was meant as an order, it seemed a bit late. If it was intended as a request, it seemed futile.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.