OTTAWA – “It was one of the longest Throne Speeches on record,” states Bruce Hyer. The problem says the Thunder Bay-Superior North MP continues, “Is that there was not a lot in it.”
Bruce Hyer says he is disappointed by a Speech from the Throne that offers more of the same for Canadians, but fails to address pressing issues like Senate reform, equal funding for First Nations education and a real plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“There was nothing about the Senate in the speech,” noted Hyer. “The issue of senate reform was on Harper’s list when he came to Ottawa,” continued Hyer. “However he has never done anything to reform the senate”.
“I’m not sure what the government did during the unnecessary month-long prorogation, other than avoid questions on the Senate scandal. They promised a new direction for Canada, but it was nowhere to be found in today’s Speech,” Hyer said after an unusually long Throne Speech. “It was also embarrassing to have it delivered in the scandalized Senate chamber without any concrete action to reform it. It’s threatening the credibility of our whole democracy.”
Hyer noted that “Harper is not stupid. He realizes that there is a limit to how far people can be pushed. Now he is putting some sugar coating on the actions to help Canadians swallow the bitter medicine.”
“Harper is still beating the ‘tough-on-crime’ drum. If mandatory minimum sentences and stiffer penalties helped much, Canada would be crime free by now. I’m disappointed that the government continues to avoid tackling the root causes of crime and only focuses only on punishment. Even the USA has largely abandoned this expensive and ineffective approach,” Hyer added.
“I’ve long proposed measures to end price gouging and help families make ends meet. But Harper has done little but support his corporate buddies so far. He’s consistently opposed consumer-oriented legislation like my air passenger rights bill and my bill to unlock cell phones. He’s got little credibility. Now, he is just re-announcing policies the CRTC has already mandated, such a cap on roaming fees and unbundling cable TV channels,” Hyer said.
“The Speech mentioned costly flooding in Toronto and Calgary, but natural disasters will only get worse until Canada and other countries put a price on carbon,” Hyer said. “The principle of ‘polluter pay’ doesn’t seem to apply for harmful greenhouse gas pollution.”
“Finally, I’m glad that after six years in office, First Nations education is finally being looked at,” Hyer said. “But the government avoided the heart of the issue: the government is funding Aboriginal students in Northern Ontario are funded at half the rate as non-Aboriginal students in the province. Aboriginal youth need the same opportunities as non-Aboriginal students, and this Throne Speech does not offer them a level playing field.”
Hyer notes that even in the area of building pipelines, “Harper is missing it, Canada is exporting low priced oil, and purchasing high priced oil.” It is an issue Hyer says makes little sense. The Thunder Bay independent MP is now re-visiting his position on a west-east pipeline, based on the Conservative Party’s direction on the issue.