Skip to main content
adam radwanski

Despite Friday's Speech from the Throne making a virtue of brevity, Justin Trudeau's Liberals managed to reiterate a fair number of campaign promises.

Beyond the inevitable, such as a middle-income tax cut and an enhanced child benefit, the text doubled down on commitments – including changes to the voting system before the next federal election and the legalization of marijuana – that could have been omitted or softened.

So what was left out or glossed over may give some indication of issues that are lower on the Liberals' priority list for now, or on which they may take a while to hammer out their position now that they're in government. That includes (but isn't limited to) the following:


Under attack from the NDP for supporting the Conservatives' controversial anti-terrorism legislation, the Liberals promised before the election to amend it – notably by adding more oversight of security agencies with beefed-up powers and curbing warrantless surveillance.

The closest the Throne Speech comes to this topic is a pledge to "continue to work to keep all Canadians safe, while at the same time protecting our cherished rights and freedoms."

Politically, the Liberals can't afford to leave the bill exactly as is. But particularly after last month's Paris attacks, they may be struggling to figure out the right balance.


When Canada and 11 other countries reached an agreement in principle on a pan-Pacific trade deal a couple of weeks before election day, the Liberals appeared moderately supportive pending review.

But after International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland sounded more skeptical earlier this week, saying it's not her job to promote the TPP, the Throne Speech offered only that the government "will negotiate beneficial trade agreements."

Particularly given that passage of the agreement would likely be paired with billions of dollars in compensation for the dairy and auto industries – something not factored into spending and deficit plans so far – the government may stall as it waits to see if the deal gets the necessary support in other countries.


During the campaign, Mr. Trudeau promised to return eligibility for Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement to 65, after the Conservatives raised it to 67.

Logistically, making good on that promise could be done relatively quickly and easily. But it would also be a big, structural expense to budgets down the road. It may not just be an oversight that it didn't receive even vague mention on Friday.


Something that did get explicitly mentioned, but with an interesting choice of words, was following up on the commission into abuse of aboriginal children at residential schools.

In a fairly robust section on the government's relationship with indigenous people, the speech pledged to "work co-operatively to implement recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada." Notably missing was the word "all" before "recommendations," despite the Liberals having called for "full implementation" of the report's proposals after its release.

Considering that the commission made a total of 94 suggestions – ranging from increases in health and education funding to changes in postsecondary curricula to seeking a papal apology – it's debatable whether Ottawa even could (let alone should) act on some of them. And quickly calling an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, as the Throne Speech reiterated they will do, should help the Liberals prove their seriousness. But this may also have been the subtle start of tempering the very high expectations they'd set.