Written by @a__A_AG
This was a year where international issues dominated Canada’s political discourse, including tension over American tariffs on Canadian dairy products, a highly controversial extradition process and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s personal liking for “fake news.”
Now, the Canadian government is expected to confirm its position regarding NAFTA and outline its priorities for 2019 in its Speech from the Throne, set to be delivered on Jan. 21 in the House of Commons.
Over the past few weeks, news outlets have reported on a new cabinet, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s separation from longtime wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, his stance toward US President Donald Trump and one of his close aides’ resignation. But none of these issues will actually be addressed in the highly anticipated report.
The report, traditionally read each spring in the House of Commons, contains little more than political reconciliation and well-known pronouncements from the previous government. Trudeau has remained fairly silent about the speech for months, said Ian Lee, assistant professor of leadership and innovation at Carleton University.
“The speech from the throne is a pretty boring speech. A ton of very familiar statements from the former government,” he said.
“For the Conservatives and the New Democrats, they want to criticize Trudeau, because they’d like to defeat him.”
Lee said that the Queen’s speech — the formal introduction of government policy and the throne speech — could herald Trudeau’s re-election. The Canadian government aims to win reelection every five years, and this is the first of three appearances by the prime minister in the 2019 campaign cycle.
“I think it’s fairly unlikely he’s going to be defeated at this point,” Lee said. “I don’t think that the speech in the throne is going to have much impact — he won the election in October of 2017. (The 2015 election) was not very close, and I think the Liberals are going to survive as a parliamentary party.”
And despite what Donald Trump might think, Lee predicts “the speech in the throne is not going to be very good for the US president in terms of his desire to have trade battles with the Canadian government. The speech is going to be very neutral toward American interest.”
According to Lee, the speech will likely include some of the Trudeau government’s commitments to women’s issues — including education, health care and employment — and a promise for a national daycare program.
Commentators, however, do see signs that the 2019 economic outlook might need some adjustments. The export sector has taken a hit in the aftermath of the US-China trade war, Lee said, which will be highlighted in the speech.
“Exports are not a major source of growth in the economy, so if the export sector doesn’t do well, that’s going to slow the economy,” he said.