LILLEY: Throne speech shows Trudeau learned nothing in election

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Governor General Julie Payette look to the gallery as they wait to deliver the Throne Speech in the Senate chamber on Dec. 5, 2019 in Ottawa. (FRED CHARTRAND/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

It was, in some ways, a throne speech from out of this world, at least when it comes to how the Governor General views things.

Astronaut turned vice-regal Julie Payette added a line to the Trudeau government’s throne speech that government sources say was all hers.

“We know that we are inextricably bound to the same space-time continuum and on board the same planetary spaceship,” Payette said.

Normally throne speeches are the government’s priorities laid out in broad strokes, a chance to peek into the brain of the government of the day. This being a minority government you would expect the Liberals to lay out ways they would find common ground with the opposition.

The throne speech even mentioned that the election results show that Canadians “want their Parliamentarians to work together on the issues that matter most to them.”

Yet, did the government temper any of the ideas they ran on in the election? No, despite the fact that this government has the weakest mandate and lowest share of the vote of any government in Canadian history.

Did they adopt any ideas from any of the opposition parties to show that they are willing to work together? No, simply a mention of the NDP’s promise to fight money laundering and the Conservative idea of making parental benefits tax free without committing to acting on either idea.

The Liberals will continue their push on a climate change agenda that will see the carbon tax go up. There was no explicit promise to raise the tax but they doubled down on lowering emissions faster than previously promised by going to net zero emissions by 2050.

“This goal is ambitious, but necessary — for both environmental protection and economic growth,” the speech said.

On health care, the speech ignored the call earlier this week by a united group of premiers looking for increased funding and greater cooperation. Instead, they are offering more national standards, read that as more federal meddling in provincial health systems, without any new funding.

There was also the promise of a national pharmacare program and a nod to exploring a national dental care plan without a single detail or even the promise of new money. Maybe the PM missed that the premiers said on Monday that they don’t want to join a national pharmacare program when the federal government still isn’t paying their full share for the existing health system.

The speech also invoked the 30th anniversary of the Ecole Polytechnique massacre to announce that they would ban “military-style assault rifles.” The Liberals have never defined what a “military-style assault rifle” is.

Nor has Trudeau ever explained why he wants to ban these rifles and spend $600 million or more to buy them back when the problem of gun violence in Canada comes from smuggled handguns. On handguns, the speech said cities will be allowed to put their own bans in place.

It was funny that on the heels of Trudeau making international headlines and angering the American administration for mocking Donald Trump at a NATO summit, the final section of the speech was, “Positioning Canada for success in an uncertain world.”

The only thing we know for certain is that Trudeau continues to embarrass Canada on the world stage.

I’ve given Trudeau credit for striking a new tone since the election, for seeming a bit humbled, for listening while speaking to premiers and others. It seemed Trudeau was willing to work with others and adapt, to learn from the election results.

This speech says otherwise and if this is Trudeau’s path forward, then the change I’ve noted may have been nothing but an act.

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