Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says the Liberal government’s Throne Speech was an “insult” to the people of Alberta and Saskatchewan because it failed to recognize the anger that has resulted from the economic downturn in the region.
The Throne Speech, delivered by Governor-General Julie Payette on Thursday, focused on a “call for unity” across Canada, while recognizing that “regional economic concerns are both justified and important.” Mr. Scheer took issue with the brief mention of the resource sector, saying the speech sent a negative message to oil and gas workers in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
“Justin Trudeau has divided this country," Mr. Scheer told reporters. "He has pitted region against region. That is not the way to keep this Confederation together.”
The Throne Speech only mentioned the resource sector at the end of a lengthy section about the government’s plans to fight climate change.
“While the government takes strong action to fight climate change, it will also work just as hard to get Canadian resources to new markets, and offer unwavering support to the hardworking women and men in Canada’s natural-resources sectors, many of whom have faced tough times recently,” Ms. Payette read during her address in the Senate chamber.
Michelle Rempel, Conservative industry and economic development critic, said she was listening to the Throne Speech from the perspective of her constituents in Calgary who have been affected by the economic downtown in Alberta.
“There was nothing in it for them," she said. “No concrete measures to address the crisis that has seen an increase in suicide rates, people losing their homes, just a devastation of the economy that has spurred a separatist sentiment.”
Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez said the speech clearly stated that all regions are important. He pointed to the fact that Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister, made Alberta her first visit in her new role.
Conservative natural-resources critic Shannon Stubbs accused the Liberals, without any evidence, of arranging a “backroom agreement” with the Bloc Québécois to have the party prop up the Throne Speech if it did not mention oil.
Cameron Ahmad, a spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office, said he didn’t have a reaction to every accusation that is “totally baseless” from opposition parties.
Bloc Leader Yves-François Blanchet said that while the speech didn’t mention oil, “it’s clearly about oil.”
The speech said the government will also continue to ensure a price on pollution across Canada – a sore spot for some conservative-led provinces. The governments of Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick have vocally opposed the federal carbon tax.
The Alberta Court of Appeal will hear that province’s case against carbon pricing starting Dec. 16.
Earlier this year, courts of appeal in Ontario and Saskatchewan ruled that the tax is constitutional.
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