Tax cuts Liberal government’s ‘first act’, reconciliation and climate change top goals: Throne speech

Throne speech promises tax cuts, more work on climate change and indigenous reconciliation.

Jason Unrau Montreal QC

Climate change, economic prosperity and indigenous reconciliation will continue to be the now-minority Liberal government’s focus according to Governor General Julie Payette’s Speech from the Throne–an outline of the ruling party’s agenda and authored by the Prime Minister’s Office.

“In this election, Parliamentarians received a mandate from the people of fight climate change, strengthen the middle class, walk the road of reconciliation, keep Canadians safe and healthy, and position Canada for success in an uncertain world,” said Payette.

The governor general declared climate change to be the “defining challenge of the time”.

“From forest fires and floods, to ocean pollution and coastal erosion, Canadians are living the impact of climate change every day. The science is clear, and it has been for decades,” Payette said.

“A clear majority of Canadians voted for ambitious climate action now. And that is what the Government will deliver… and it will do so in a way that grows the economy and makes life more affordable.”

Reducing Canada’s emissions to a net-zero position by 2050 and planting two billion trees over the next decade are among the government’s climate action goals, according to the speech.

On the subject of “middle class prosperity”, Payette said most Canadians can expect a tax cut.

“As its first act, the government will cut taxes for all but the wealthiest Canadians, giving more money to middle class families and those who need it most,” she said.

“The Government will also act on housing…(and) continue its crucial investments in affordable housing. It will also make it easier for more people to buy their first home.”

The Throne speech also reiterated Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s campaign promise to cut cell phone bills by 25 percent, “more support for students” and a national pharmacare plan; each yet to be defined in more concrete action.

The speech also promised to “walk to road of reconciliation” with Indigenous people that includes “co-develop(ing) and introduce legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the first year of the new mandate.”

While the legislation to implement the UN declaration died in the Senate, Trudeau appears intent on following the province of British Columbia, which passed legislation to adopt the declaration in November.

The Liberal minority will also forge ahead with “banning military-style assault rifles and taking steps to introduce a buy-back program.”

“Canadians have seen firsthand the devastating effects of gun violence. Too many lives lost, too many families shattered,” said Payette. “It is time to show courage, and strengthen gun control.”

The “uncertain world” also loomed in the Throne speech.

According to Payette, the government will position Canada “as a coalition-builder… with like-minded countries to put Canada’s expertise to work on a global scale in… the promotion of democracy and human rights, the fight against climate change… and the development and ethical use of artificial intelligence.”

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