The opposition parties hunted for clear political targets in the minority Conservative government's Throne Speech yesterday, but had to admit that Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave them little to shoot at.
"The devil is in the details and there aren't any details here," a frustrated Liberal Leader Bill Graham said yesterday after listening to one of the sparsest Throne Speeches in living memory.
Instead of attacking the government's legislative program, the opposition parties and interest groups lamented what wasn't there -- no specific plans to clean up the environment, improve living conditions for aboriginal people, meet foreign aid commitments, or rebuild urban infrastructure.
Mr. Graham said the Conservatives are blowing a unique opportunity to implement a comprehensive national child-care program. The federal treasury easily could afford such a new social program, he said.
Paradoxically, the more that goes into a speech from the throne, the less accountable a government is for any of it, especially a minority government. A promise-laden speech makes it that much easier for a minority government to bargain away large parts of its legislative agenda in exchange for getting it passed.
A narrowly-focussed speech like this gives the Conservative little room to trade off anything--a move that would be risky if the opposition were not so deeply divided and unwilling to force an election.
From early indications, it looks like the Bloc Quebecois will vote for the speech, guaranteeing its passage and the survival of the government, and maybe the NDP as well will join in.
Leaving the Liberals to make all sorts of unbelievable threats to bring down the government and force a second election in six months with no leader, no money, and no hope of winning.
No need to clear the calendars for an election this year.
Source: Globe and Mail