Of Throne Speeches and Pizzas
A Throne Speech kicks off a Parliamentary session. A Throne Speech that follows an election is usually a rehash of the victor’s campaign promises. In that respect, this week’s Throne Speech did not disappoint.
The Government (through the Governor General) can huff and puff in every official language and talk about “mandate” and how “the people have spoken” and about the next “hundred days” . But in a minority Parliament, the words in the Speech are aspirational only. The last cooperative moment among the four Parties in the House of Commons will turn out to have been when they trudged over to the Senate Chamber together to hear the Speech.
It will take enormous skill for the Liberals to get anything done in this Pizza Parliament. The “pizza” metaphor refers back to the raucous, divided and largely ungovernable parliaments that bedeviled Italy for decades.
On the first day of the new Parliamentary Session in Ottawa, none of the Opposition parties spoke about a new cooperative spirit. But that was just bluster. None of them can afford another election any time soon.
The Liberals, once again in a minority position, will not control House of Commons Committees. This will frustrate their goals and timelines. One of the reasons advanced by the Liberals for the recent election was that Parliament was bogged down. Well, welcome back to the future.
The unsung heroes in minority Parliaments are always the Party House Leaders who must negotiate every day to determine how to get anything done. It’s a dance. Parties want to appear tough, but not blow up the place just yet. Minority Parliaments typically last 18-24 months.
Some key themes from yesterday’s Throne Speech (full text can be found here):
Moving on from the pandemic: through vaccination and moving to targeted support for the hardest hit industries
Action on climate change: by cutting emissions and better preparing for the climate change outcomes we are already facing (floods, fires, drought)
“Whole of Government” approach to reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous peoples
Tackling the rising cost of living: affordable child care and housing
New focus for foreign affairs: deepening our relationships in the Indo-Pacific and across the Arctic