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Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivers a speech in Richmond, B.C., on Sept. 16, 2013. (BEN NELMS/REUTERS)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivers a speech in Richmond, B.C., on Sept. 16, 2013. (BEN NELMS/REUTERS)

Five things you can expect from Harper’s Throne Speech Add to ...

The government’s Throne Speech Wednesday will give the Conservatives a chance to set the stage ahead of the 2015 federal election. It’s also an opportune time for the Tories to draw attention away from Senate scandals and toward more consumer-friendly pocketbook issues. (In a broad appeal to those consumers, the event even has its own hashtag: #SFT13.) Here are four items you might expect to see – and one you won’t.

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1. Pick-and-pay cable and satellite TV

Cable subscribers could be allowed to pick and choose specific channels, instead of purchasing large bundles. The “pick-and-pay price model” would run alongside bundled plans currently offered by cable companies.

2. Airline passenger bill of rights

A long-discussed airline passenger bill of rights would compensate consumers who are delayed, rebooked or otherwise inconvenienced when air carriers overbook flights.

3. Caps on domestic cellphone roaming fees

The Conservatives have said they intend to encourage competition in communications, though U.S. cable giant Verizon, the most-talked-about wireless contender over the summer, eventually balked at coming to Canada. Wednesday will likely see new caps to domestic cellphone roaming fees.

“We think roaming fees have been a long standing concern for not only consumers but for competition within the telecom sector,” Industry Minister James Moore said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

4. Tougher-on-crime

Crime has been such a favoured topic for the Conservatives, it received its own section in all but one of Stephen Harper’s Throne Speeches, according to a review by former prime ministerial chief of staff David McLaughlin. So expect to see more appeals to the tough-on-crime agenda, such as outlining the national public sex offender registry discussed last month.

5. Canadian heritage

The multi-year commemoration of the War of 1812 will continue, as will anniversaries to mark important dates in the First and Second World Wars, and groundwork will be laid for Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017.

What you shouldn’t expect

1. Senate reform

The government will likely stay mum on the topic of Senate reform, as Conservatives wait to hear from the Supreme Court of Canada about whether it can be reformed or abolished. This could take a year or more. This could put other measures on hold, like requiring Senators to disclose expenses.

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