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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Throne speech offers comfort for advocates

  • October 1, 2020

OTTAWA -- Social justice and religious groups demanding a “just” recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic heard the words they wanted to hear when the federal government’s Speech from the Throne was delivered by Governor General Julie Payette on behalf of the Liberal government on Sept. 23.

However, while the agenda set out by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his minority Liberal government is in many ways very similar to what campaigns such as For the Love of Creation have been seeking, the devil is in the details and only time will tell whether the government actually puts those words into action.

“As can be expected for these types of addresses, the merit of these words will be determined by the details that follow,” said Citizens for Public Justice, a member of the For the Love of Creation coalition, in a statement.

What campaigns such as the faith-based For the Love of Creation, a coalition of religious groups which includes the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, have been asking for was all there. These include the federal government’s pledge to continue to support Canadians, especially the most vulnerable, in a time of economic hardship resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, and to make addressing the threat of climate change the key pillar of future economic development.

“Climate action will be a cornerstone of our plan to support and create a million jobs across the country,” the speech said, adding efforts to foster better relations with Canada’s First Nations, investment in a national child care plan in association with the provinces and national standards for the care of the elderly which the pandemic has shown to be woefully inadequate at the provincial level will also be key in Canada’s eventual recovery from the impact of the global health crisis.

“CPJ was happy to see all three of our key issue areas highlighted, along with accompanying policy proposals,” the statement from CPJ said, adding “the government borrowed language from many advocacy campaigns to put forward a progressive vision for the future.”

“CPJ remains hopeful that in the implementation of these policies and budgetary decisions, Canada will move quickly to achieve climate justice and ensure the rights of Indigenous peoples, refugees, people living in poverty and others experiencing intersecting forms of systemic oppression are honoured and upheld.”

In a Sept. 14 open letter to federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, the For the Love of Creation coalition urged the government to make many of the promises that it made in the throne speech.

“Even before the emergence of COVID-19, we knew that we were entering into a crucial decade for climate action. Addressing the climate emergency is more important than ever and must now be done while also responding to the pandemic and devastating economic, political, cultural and social issues,” it said.

“Indigenous peoples have long spoken of the interconnectedness of all Creation. Respecting this interconnectedness is critical for ecological and economic integrity, right relations with Indigenous peoples and for holistic recovery from the pandemic.

“We have an opportunity to build a just and equitable Canada,” the letter concluded.

A speech from the throne, which was necessary after the federal government prorogued Parliament in August, always leads to a confidence vote in which the government either stands or falls. Conservatives indicated they will vote against the throne speech, but the Liberals only need the support of one party and the federal NDP has said it will back the government.

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