Speeches | Speech from the Throne: A Government Without Leadership

30 October 2007

Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
2nd Session, 39th Parliament, Volume 144, Issue 7
The Honourable Rose-Marie Losier-Cool, Speaker pro tempore


Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, it is with some pleasure that I rise to speak to the Throne Speech, but it is not with a great deal of pleasure that I rise, for two reasons: First, so little is in this Throne Speech that to suggest one is speaking to it is to exaggerate the point. Rather, one has to speak around it, or one has to speak about all kinds of things that are not in it. I am also not pleased because the minimal amount that is in it is very disconcerting and not particularly inspiring, I believe, for Canadians.

(1450)

I take offence, first, with the government's statement on the front of the Throne Speech pamphlet. People often describe themselves aggressively in one way simply because they are afraid of the underlying truth that may not actually support that description. We certainly have a great deal of experience with this government saying something over and over again that clearly is not true, on the assumption that if they say it enough people will actually believe it is true.

Education, as we all must understand, is the future of this country. It is the future of the economy of this country. A 21st century economy will be based upon intellectual property, education, science, technology and the minds of Canadians who are able to confront and beat the rest of the world. None of that is supported by this particular Throne Speech.

At the end of that five-year period, she had amassed a $75,000 student loan. When $75,000 is divided by five, the result is not a great deal of money, in some senses, for supporting two children and putting oneself through school as an annual expense. However, the woman ended up with $75,000 in loans. It is like having a mortgage, as they say, without having the house. She is now 38 years old. The interest rate on that mortgage is prime plus 2.5 per cent, which puts it upwards of 9 per cent. She will be forced to begin to make payments at $829 a month. That will be over 25 per cent of her take-home pay, despite the fact that she has a professional job. What assistance has she received? How will she be able to pay for her rent, pay for her children's upbringing, pay for that debt and still provide for some kind of future for herself and her family?

Honourable senators, this is the kind of issue that a caring government, a government that sees the future and has a sense of people and understands empathy would begin to address. This woman has done exactly what our society has asked her to do. She has taken herself off welfare rolls and done everything she possibly could to secure a future in a productive way, support her family and herself, and she is burdened by a mortgage without a house.

The second evident omission in this Throne Speech is its neglect of women's equality. It is now the case that this government is not allowed to use the word "equality" in the context of women's rights and women's issues. This government has cancelled initiatives that would affect women and promote their interests. They have cut off $350,000 in annual federal funding for the National Association of Women and the Law. They have cut the $750,000 annual federal grant to the Canadian Child Care Federation. They have cut the Court Challenges Program, which enabled persons and groups to challenge federal laws on equality grounds. They have cut the Law Reform Commission. They have cut the Canadian Volunteerism Initiative. They have cut $750,000 from Family Service Canada.

In this context, government ministers have made it clear that the funding of advocacy groups is not a priority. However, they are selective in how they manage these cuts to "advocacy" groups. They have cut all support for groups that advocate for the equality of women and the rights of families, but at the same time they have added — and this is almost incomprehensible — a $500,000 grant to the Conference of Defence Associations. Let us support defence associations, but not equality for women.

I have taken a good deal of time to talk about what is not in this speech, and I could go on at some considerable length.

(1500)

I also point out what is clear in this government's Throne Speech.

Often what this government does is not to achieve some kind of good public policy end or to make the country better. Rather, their actions are based on cynical politics, designed simply to get votes, to promote and manipulate their chance of electoral success.

I will return to the subject of crime bills. If this government truly saw that issue as one that needed to be addressed, they would have allowed the crime bills that were passed in the House of Commons last session to simply be re-established on the list and put through quickly with the kind of support they would have received for that. Instead, they repackage the bills to somehow make the extraneous, elaborate case that the Liberals are soft on crime and are trying to delay the proposed legislation.

There were initiatives in that bill that could have been passed and acted on by now and might well have reduced crime in the Conservative's view of the world. They did not do that.

Another thing than I find almost breathtaking is that the Prime Minister actually calls himself an economist. That reminds me of the story that everyone but my Johnny is out of step. The Prime Minister is perhaps the only economist in this country who actually believes cutting the GST serves any purpose other than a political one.

One of the major issues facing this country is productivity; and in good times we should be preparing for bad times. One day when we confront a downturn, we will need heightened productivity more than we can imagine, and this government should be cutting taxes that stimulate economic productivity. The GST is not one of those. Another issue that they miss is Kyoto. I want to emphasize this because Senator Tkachuk is having a pretty good time about it. He clearly underlined this government's attitude. It is not that they are opposed specifically to the Kyoto process for addressing climate change; it is that they are opposed to any process for addressing climate change. There are many initiatives that the government could have brought in easily after 18 long months. Look at what British Columbia is doing. Look at the announcements and initiatives made by Premier Campbell. That is a government that said they will be carbon neutral by 2010. They are focused on improving the climate and taking concrete, specific initiatives to achieve that. These initiatives do not cost money; they do not cause economic harm. They stimulate economies, save money and enhance productivity and competitiveness.

The frustration I feel when I read this Throne Speech is never greater than when I read the limited amount that it says about climate change, when I contemplate how much could be done and how little is in fact being done. There is no leadership where leadership is required.

Honourable senators, that brings me to my final comment. When I read this Throne Speech, I am struck at how quintessentially small-minded it is. It does not grab a single major issue confronting this country, such as child poverty, Kyoto, climate change or Kelowna.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore
: I must advise the honourable senator that his speaking time has expired.

Senator Mitchell
: I would ask for five more minutes, please.

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Mitchell
: I thank my Conservative colleagues, in particular, for allowing me to continue. They are very empathetic and compassionate at certain moments. When I read this Throne Speech, the first thing that hit me was how light it was, how little there was in it that inspired. It did not address any of the major issues facing this country today. It did not address productivity or climate change; it did not address child poverty or native issues particularly. It did not address any major issue that, with great leadership, could transform this country in some significant way for the future. I am struck by how quintessentially small "c" conservative this Throne Speech is. It tinkers and modifies only at the margin. It is afraid to grab the future, to lead Canadians to do something great.

Hopefully, honourable senators, it will not be too long before this government will understand the chance that it missed; and we will see one day in the not-too-distant future some great leadership once again for this country from the next Liberal government.

On motion of Senator Hubley, debate adjourned.

This is an abridged version of the Senator's speech. The full text is available at www.parl.gc.ca.

Give us your feedback about this speech.

We would love hearing your comments about this speech. Please submit them using the form below.

Your contact information

First Name:
Last Name:
Email:
Province:
Postal Code:
Comment:

Selected Speeches

Boyle Street Community Services

Oct 5, 2016

Bill S-229: An Act Respecting Underground Infrastructure Safety

Oct 4, 2016

Telus World of Science

Jun 16, 2016

Second reading of Bill C-14, Medical Assistance in Dying

Jun 3, 2016

Wildfires in Fort McMurray—Emergency Appeal

May 5, 2016

Digging Safely

Apr 21, 2016

In Pursuit of Common Ground

Mar 18, 2016

Speech from the Throne—Motion for Address in Reply

Dec 10, 2015

Second Reading of my Underground Infrastructure Safety Enhancement Bill

Jun 22, 2015

Second Reading of my Enhancement of Civilian Review and Oversight in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Bill

Jun 19, 2015

Third reading of Bill C-51, Anti-terrorism Bill, 2015

Jun 2, 2015

Second reading of Bill C-51, Anti-terrorism Bill, 2015

May 13, 2015

Tribute to The Late Honourable Pierre Claude Nolin, Speaker of the Senate

Apr 29, 2015

Third reading of Bill C-44, An Act to amend the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and other Acts

Apr 1, 2015

Bill 10 in Alberta

Mar 11, 2015

Speech at Report Stage for Bill C-279

Mar 10, 2015

Second reading of Bill C-44, An Act to amend the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and other Acts

Feb 25, 2015

Senate energy report makes recommendations to protect underground infrastructure

Dec 16, 2014

HeForShe Campaign

Oct 1, 2014

Dandelion Renewables

Sep 25, 2014

Alberta Emerald Foundation

Sep 18, 2014

Global Wind Day

Jun 13, 2014

Safe Digging Month

Apr 29, 2014

Northwest Territories Devolution Bill

Feb 27, 2014

Speech at second reading of Bill C-279, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity)

Feb 4, 2014

Forestry Industry

Dec 10, 2013

Geothermal Energy

Nov 28, 2013

Trans Day of Remembrance

Nov 20, 2013

Discours au congrès de la Canadian Common Ground Alliance

Nov 18, 2013

Speech to the Canadian Common Ground Alliance convention

Nov 14, 2013

Child, Family and Adolescent Mental Health

Jun 25, 2013

Speech at Third Reading of Bill C-42 (Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act)

May 23, 2013

Speech at Second Reading of Bill C-42 (Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act)

Apr 16, 2013

Speech at second reading of Bill C-279, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity)

Apr 16, 2013

Allotment of Time on Budget 2012

Dec 13, 2012

Speech at Second Reading of Budget 2012, Bill C-45

Dec 10, 2012

Speech on Korean War Veterans Day Bill

Dec 6, 2012

Two speeches on the third reading of Budget 2012, Bill C-45

Dec 6, 2012

iSisters Technology Mentoring

Nov 2, 2011

Canadian Wheat Board

Oct 18, 2011

"Because I Am a Girl" Campaign

Oct 18, 2011

La campagne « Parce que je suis une fille »

Oct 18, 2011

La Commission canadienne du blé

Oct 18, 2011

Canadian Foundation for Women's Health

Sep 29, 2011

Thinking of Jack Layton

Aug 23, 2011

Le Budget des dépenses de 2011-2012

Jun 26, 2011

L'école secondaire Queen Elizabeth

Jun 23, 2011

Queen Elizabeth High School - Congratulations on Fiftieth Anniversary

Jun 23, 2011

Le budget de 2011

Jun 16, 2011

Budget 2011 - Inquiry

Jun 16, 2011

DeforestAction

Jun 9, 2011

DeforestAction

Jun 9, 2011

La Loi sur les mesures de réinsertion et d'indemnisation des militaires et vétérans des Forces canadiennes La Loi sur les pensions

Mar 24, 2011

Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Act Pension Act

Mar 24, 2011

Support Program for Aboriginal Nursing Students at the University of Lethbridge

Mar 9, 2011

Sur le Programme de soutien des étudiants autochtones en nursing de l’Université de Lethbridge

Mar 9, 2011

Corporate and Income Taxes

Feb 3, 2011

Climate Change Policy

Feb 2, 2011

Women in Prisons in Canada

Dec 15, 2010

Les femmes incarcérées au Canada

Dec 15, 2010

Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Bill

Dec 14, 2010

Economic mismanagement

Dec 13, 2010

La gestion de l'économie.

Dec 13, 2010

Sustainable Development Technology

Dec 9, 2010

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Bill

Dec 9, 2010

Edmonton's Bid for Expo 2017

Dec 9, 2010

Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and Companies' Creditor Arrangment Act

Nov 30, 2010

Women's Equality in Canada — Inquiry

Nov 23, 2010

National Day of Service Bill

Nov 3, 2010

Senatorial Selection Bill

Nov 2, 2010

Second reading of Bill S-221, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (carbon offset tax credit)

Oct 7, 2010

Jobs and Economic Growth Bill – Sixth Report of National Finance Committee Negatived

Jul 21, 2010

Study on the Current State and Future of Energy Sector

Jun 15, 2010

Bill C-311, Climate Change Accountability

Jun 1, 2010

The State of the Senate's Online Presence

Jun 1, 2010

Bilingual Supreme Court Judges

May 12, 2010

Environment and Human Rights

May 4, 2010

Erosion of Freedom of Speech

Apr 27, 2010

What is Realistic and Effective Parliamentary Reform?

Mar 17, 2010

It's Time To Shelve Bottled Water

May 5, 2009

The Danger of Unintended Consequences - Senate Reform

Apr 28, 2009

Bill S-3, Energy Efficiency Act

Feb 12, 2009

Bill S-213, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (carbon offset tax credit)

Feb 10, 2009

Bill C-474, Federal Sustainable Development Act

Jun 18, 2008

Bill C-33, An Act to Amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act

Jun 12, 2008

Bill S-228, An Act to amend the Canadian Wheat Board Act

Feb 26, 2008

Speech from the Throne: A Government Without Leadership

Oct 30, 2007

Temporary Foreign Workers Program

Jun 18, 2007

Kyoto: Response to the Third Reading

May 31, 2007

Statements on the second reading of the Budget Implementation Bill

Jun 13, 2006