Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said the Liberals’ Throne Speech shows Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “hasn’t learned a thing” from an election in which he lost seats in the Western provinces.
Members of Parliament gathered in the House of Commons Friday to respond to the speech, which called for unity and acknowledged that a minority mandate will require MPs to work together.
Mr. Scheer proposed an amendment to the Throne Speech that says Canada is “threatened” by declining productivity and competitiveness, a rising cost of living, a weakening position in an uncertain world and by a national-unity crisis. The amendment calls for a number of additions including a plan to balance the budget and “stopping the attack on the Western Canadian economy.”
“Times of fear bring times of division," Mr. Scheer said. "Canadians are afraid for their country. We must return to what makes us strong … we must put a stop to the divisive polices that have pitted province against province and region against region.”
In the first Question Period of the new Parliament, Mr. Trudeau said the Throne Speech “recognized the challenges facing workers in our resource sector.” He said the Liberal government is moving forward with the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project and that “there are shovels in the ground."
The speech echoed many promises from the Liberal election platform, in terms of its pledge to take "ambitious climate action now,” but also acknowledged the difficulty of balancing climate action with support for the natural-resources sector. It said that the government will “work just as hard” to get resources to new markets and offer “unwavering support” to workers in this industry.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet said the premiers met and called for an increase in health transfers. He added that Quebec hires doctors and nurses, not the Canadian government. Mr. Blanchet said that the Throne Speech interferes in Quebec’s jurisdiction and asked Mr. Trudeau if he heard the call of the premiers.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh reiterated his call for a national single-payer pharmacare program. “What is it going to take for the Prime Minister to keep his word and to deliver pharmacare that covers all Canadians?” Mr. Singh asked.
Mr. Trudeau said that Canadians should not have to choose between putting food on the table or paying for their essential medications.
“We recognize that now is the time to do more and to move forward towards a national, universal pharmacare,” he said.
Mr. Trudeau also acknowledged Mr. Blanchet’s comments, “However, we recognize, as the Leader of the Bloc Québécois brought up, that there is an issue of provincial jurisdiction. That is why we are going to sit down with the provinces and work with them as we move forward on ensuring that Canadians can afford the medications they need.”
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