Throne Speech a calculated risk for conservatives
Wednesday’s Throne Speech covered a wide range of topics, from a looming European Union trade deal to the completion the Dempster Highway to the Arctic Ocean. But what the speech had in variety it lacked in specifics and details.
There were plenty of promises made, but many of them required substance in regard to how these promises would be met. One particularly puzzling part was Governor-General David Johnston’s mention of Israel while speaking of Canadian values, two seemingly unrelated topics. Perhaps more amusingly, Johnston chose Canadian support of Israel and opposition to Middle Eastern regimes when emphasizing how Canada does not go along to get along. However, the Canadian policy on Israel and the Middle East more generally is entirely unoriginal.
The strengths of the speech sensibly matched up the strengths or main platform pieces of the Conservative government: taxes, military activity and expansion, and economics. The Tories are looking to posture themselves as the reasonable, safe choice for Canadians come election time, and make out Trudeau and the Liberals as a risky, inexperienced gamble.
The strategy is a wise one and probably the only real political move the Conservatives can make in separating themselves from the Liberal party. There is considerable time between now and elections and Harper hopes this time will allow for much of the recent controversy to be forgotten.
Scandal is a complicating factor in presenting the Conservative party as the safe, responsible choice. The speech was meant to provide a road map for the next two years of government activity and there was enough mentioned to keep the government busy for two years. The positive aspect of broad, bold roadmaps like this are that it provides a sense of identity for the party and gives Canada a sense of direction.
However, the danger is that after two years, if major points mentioned last night are neglected or incomplete, Liberals will have some additional political ammo just in time for elections. It will be interesting to see if the promises lacking a coherent plan of implementation harm the Conservatives come 2015.