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Prime Minister Stephen Harper waves upon his arrival for the meeting with his Greek counterpart in Athens on May 28, 2011. (LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper waves upon his arrival for the meeting with his Greek counterpart in Athens on May 28, 2011. (LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images)

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Harper's Throne Speech trumps his budget, pollster says Add to ...

All eyes are focused on Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and his June 6 budget - but pollster Nik Nanos argues Friday's Speech from the Throne is the more important document.

It will show Canadians the measure of the Prime Minister and what he plans to do with his majority government. The Nanos Research president says it will be "among the most important events" for Stephen Harper.

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"Although the pre-election budget is a key signal as to what to expect, the critical thing to watch will be a new initiatives since it will be the first glimmer of what to expect from a Harper majority government on the policy front," Mr. Nanos told The Globe on Wednesday.

"How the Prime Minister walks the line of political pragmatism and political partisanship will be interesting to see," he said.

Mr. Nanos's comments come amid the release of a new poll showing that despite electing a majority government not all Canadians are on side with Conservative policies, including the purchase of the F-35 jet fighters and the corporate tax cuts.

The Environics poll, conducted for the CBC, found that 52 per cent of Canadians do not want the government to go ahead with the jet purchase and 53 per cent said they were opposed to the corporate tax cuts. The Liberals had campaigned against both of these Tory campaign planks.

While the Throne Speech lays out the Conservative policy agenda, Mr. Nanos says it will also "play a central role in setting the tone in their relationship with the New Democrats" - who are now the Official Opposition.

The pollster also sees some risk for the Tories as MPs return to the Commons. "Accelerating the sitting of the House shows an appetite to move forward but increases the communications risk because of the cabinet shuffle and swath of parliamentary assistants who have only had a few weeks to brief up on their new responsibilities," he said.

What's in a hockey team's name?

The country is celebrating the return of NHL hockey to Winnipeg after 15 years - but it's a little difficult to celebrate when the team remains nameless.

Politicians and politicos were quick to weigh in with their suggestions.

Pat Martin, the veteran NDP MP for Winnipeg Centre, was ecstatic. "Let the bells ring out and the banners fly," he said, noting he and his son are planning to go "half'er" on a pair of seasons tickets. "I'm thinking of a [private member's bill]to make Jets tickets tax deductible," he joked.

As for a name, he likes the Jets. "Such history and heritage and pride and tradition are all tied up in that name." His second choice is the Strikers, for the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike. "Be the first name after a labour dispute," he said.

Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae likes the Bobcats. Treasury Board President Tony Clement suggested the Mosquitoes, given his lake-filled Muskoka riding is filled with insects throughout the summer just like Winnipeg. And pollster Nik Nanos suggested the Glory, after Manitoba's "glorious and free" motto.

Gordon Giffin, the former U.S. ambassador to Canada who hails from Atlanta, is a huge hockey fan and says he is still depressed about what happened yesterday. But he suggested the Winnipeg team be called the Phoenix. "Not for the city the Jets went to but the bird that rose from the ashes and came back from the dead," he said, referring to the fact the Jets left for Phoenix, Arizona, in 1996.

The Prime Minister's Office, however, would not be drawn into the name game. "What matters most is that the NHL is returning to Winnipeg," Harper spokesman Dimitri Soudas said.

Follow on Twitter: @janetaber1

 

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