Local Conservative MPs say last week's throne speech rehashed old talking points without offering a clear path to recovery for the country.
St. Albert-Edmonton MP Michael Cooper told the Gazette he found the speech, delivered Wednesday by Gov. Gen. Julie Payette on behalf of the Liberal government, disappointing.
“Trudeau shut down Parliament for six weeks on the basis of introducing a throne speech, and really the throne speech was more or less a copy and paste of the throne speech (from) last year,” Cooper said.
Sturgeon River-Parkland MP Dane Lloyd said he expected more after Trudeau prorogued parliament for weeks.
“We were expecting that they were going to come back with this blockbuster speech from the throne ... that did not happen,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd said the economy needs a more detailed plan to move forward and he wants to see how Trudeau plans to make this economy work if the pandemic continues on for years.
“This isn’t a change in direction, this isn’t creative thinking, this isn’t a plan for the future of our country."
On Wednesday, Trudeau unveiled the first throne speech since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, giving Canadians a look at what the federal government plans to do to kick-start the economy and continue to battle the pandemic. The feds pledged to create one million jobs in response to the pandemic.
The MPs said they were expecting more detail on creating jobs and more acknowledgement of the job losses in the oil and gas sector that have been going on for five years.
“We were already struggling, especially in Western Canada, before this pandemic and we've been losing hundreds of thousands of jobs. So when (Trudeau) talks about replacing the one million jobs lost, what about all the jobs, the hundreds of thousands of jobs that have been lost in Alberta and Western Canada, before the pandemic?” Lloyd said.
In the throne speech, Trudeau’s government mentioned a national child care program, pledging to not leave women behind in the COVID-19 economic recovery.
The government also mentioned a national pharmacare plan and a road to stabilizing the economy during the ongoing pandemic.Trudeau promised to extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program until next summer, which covers 75 per cent of the wages for workers impacted by the pandemic, up to a maximum of $847 per week.
"People losing their jobs is perhaps the clearest consequence of the global economic shock that Canadians, like those in other countries, have faced," said Payette, reading the speech in the Senate chamber on Wednesday.
Along with supporting businesses and woman, Trudeau outlined support for people with disabilities by introducing a Canada Disability Benefit, modelled after Guaranteed Income Support for Seniors.
As a response to care crisis that saw hundreds of seniors suffering and dying alone in long-term care homes across the country, the Liberals said they plan to create "new, national standards for long-term care" and will amend the Criminal Code to include a penalty for people who neglect seniors in their care.
One of the ways the government will tackle job creation is through their climate change plan, and Trudeau’s speech outlined thousands of jobs that would be created in this sector, which is the “cornerstone” of the federal job creation plan. Jobs will be created by retrofitting homes and buildings and making emission-free vehicles more affordable.
The government promised to bring forward a plan to exceed the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The feds also plan to put into legislation the goal of having net-zero emissions by 2050.
The Liberals gave mention of tackling systemic racism after a summer filled with protests over racial inequality and systemic oppression. Trudeau said he would introduce new legislation to combat some of the systemic issues facing people of colour and would reform the criminal justice system. There was also a promise of moving forward with a civilian oversight body for the RCMP.
Cooper said while many promises were made in the speech, he wondered how they would be funded during such difficult financial time.
"It's one thing to say, 'We're going to spend money on certain programs,' but you also have to address how you're going to pay for it over the long term," Cooper said.
Both MPs said the health and safety of all Canadians is the most important priority to address during the pandemic, but they noticed important issues like Western alienation and the stagnating oil and gas sector got no mention during the speech.Cooper said there are billions of dollars worth of oil and gas projects that are awaiting federal approval.
Jennifer Henderson is the Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Great West Newspapers, covering rural Alberta issues.
Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette