On Friday, June 3rd, the newly re-elected Conservative government of Canada outlined its legislative agenda in the Speech from the Throne, read by Governor-General David Johnston (seen at left). True to the May 2nd election night promise of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Speech did not set out any surprises or hidden agenda, but stayed very close to the published election campaign of the Conservatives.
Immigration, border security concerns, and citizenship
On immigration matters, the government did not propose any comprehensive reform. It intends to proceed with previously announced plans to tackle smuggling as well as the problem of marriage fraud in relation to sponsorship applications. The government also said it plans to cooperate with the Obama administration to “streamline and secure our border and enhance regulatory cooperation” to promote security while supposedly enhancing the movement of goods and persons between Canada and the U.S.
Surprisingly, the Speech from the Throne contained nothing to indicate the government intends to make long overdue changes to Canada’s citizenship legislation.
Seven main priorities
Here is what the government states are its main priorities:
- Supporting jobs and growth by implementing the Next Phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan, which will include further steps to promote a stable, low-tax environment; develop a highly skilled and flexible workforce; support innovation and the adoption of new technologies, and expand access to markets abroad.
- Eliminating the deficit by 2015 by making responsible choices and reducing the cost of government, ensuring that the economy can continue to grow and create jobs.
- Supporting hard-working families by helping seniors make ends meet and continuing to help Canadians save for their retirement; by supporting family caregivers; by helping parents who want to provide their children with opportunities to discover their creative passions; and by working with the provinces and territories to ensure that the health care system is sustainable and delivers results for Canadians.
- Standing on guard for Canada by celebrating our heritage; by developing Canada’s extraordinary resource wealth in a way that protects the environment; and by continuing to stand for what is right on the world stage, including through our missions in Afghanistan and Libya.
- Supporting law-abiding Canadians by reintroducing comprehensive law-and-order legislation to combat crime and terrorism; by protecting the most vulnerable and working to prevent crime; by addressing the problem of violence against women and girls; and by reintroducing legislation to clarify and strengthen laws on self-defence, defence of property and citizen’s arrest.
- Helping communities and industries by ending the long-gun registry; by continuing to support Canada’s traditional industries; and by addressing the barriers to social and economic participation faced by many Aboriginal Canadians.
- Promoting integrity and accountability by reintroducing legislation to reform the Senate and restore fair representation in the House of Commons; by taking steps to phase out direct taxpayer subsidies to federal political parties; and by ensuring that citizens, the private sector and other partners have improved access to the workings of government.
Photo: Governor-General David Johnston reads the Speech from the Throne, 3 June 2011, from official television broadcast.