THE CANADIAN PRESS
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Sharon Johnston look on as Gov. Gen. David Johnston delivers the speech from the throne in the Senate chamber on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday.
Voter-friendly promises like reducing wireless roaming costs, requiring television channels to be "unbundled" and a new cyberbullying law were a few of the points touched on in Wednesday’s speech from the throne.
Delivered in Ottawa by Gov. Gen. David Johnston, the hour-long speech also included the promise of a free-trade deal with the European Union and a pledge to confer honorary Canadian citizenship on Pakistani teen Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Peace Prize nominee who survived a Taliban attack on her school bus in October 2012.
Following the throne speech, the Brandon Sun caught up with the four candidates vying for the role of MP in Brandon-Souris to see what their reaction was to the Conservative government’s vision.
NDP candidate Cory Szczepanski said the speech left out some "big points" — gas prices, airline passenger rights and credit card rates.
"Unfortunately the Conservatives have made big promises about protecting consumers for seven years, but time and time again they’ve failed to deliver or help consumers with this speech," he said.
Szczepanski said it’s going to take a lot more than what was outlined in the throne speech "to make Canadians forget about the Senate scandal."
Senators Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin are both being investigated by the RCMP over their expense claims.
Meanwhile, Green party candidate David Neufeld said the speech lacked vision for the future.
"I don’t see a lot of vision in terms of the very serious transformation that needs to take place away from reliance on and exploitation of resources, to that of building a strong, sustainable economy," he said.
With the free-trade deals discussed with China and Europe, Neufeld said there isn’t enough protection for small, artisan farmers.
"There’s very exciting things happening in the small farm movement, a lot of innovation in developing new foods and so forth," he said. "The kinds of agreements that Mr. Harper is signing really pulled the rug out from underneath that."
Neufeld was pleased to see the government’s plans to take action against the practice of early and forced marriages, as well as the decision to give Yousafzai honorary citizenship.
Conservative candidate Larry Maguire was most pleased to hear that the government plans to invest $70 billion in federal, provincial, territorial and community infrastructure over the next decade.
"Seventy billion over 10 years is no small amount of money. It’s one of the biggest investments ever made in Canadian history, in regards to infrastructure development," Maguire said. "We’ve seen that lacking in some of the areas here in my role as an MLA. I know the federal government can play an important role in this."
Maguire was also happy with the consumer-first agenda with regards to the pick-and-pay television service and reducing cellular roaming costs.
Liberal candidate Rolf Dinsdale said most of the speech was "rather vague allusions to action."
"It was a very broad speech, not very deep," he said. "This government doesn’t appear to have a vision for where they’re going to lead Canada and that seems quite apparent because it’s a retread of themes they’ve brought up and themes other parties have brought up."
Dinsdale said the speech lacked detail on what the Conservative government will do to help First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities.
"A lot of breadth and a lot of promises, not much depth and details," Dinsdale said.
» email@example.com, with files from The Canadian Press
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 17, 2013