Dogs, long-dead explorers and beer: A little bit of everything in throne speech

OTTAWA – Dogs, beer and long-dead explorers — there was a little bit of everything sprinkled into Wednesday’s speech from the throne.

The main headlines that emerged from the speech included an imminent trade deal with Europe, tougher sentencing for criminals and consumer measures such as lower cell roaming fees.

But there were also a number of extremely specific — and sometimes arcane — promises that stood out among the broad themes of the speech.

They include:

— A law that would criminalize hurting a service animal. A German Shepherd police dog in Edmonton known as Quanto was recently stabbed repeatedly by a man police were trying to take into custody.

—Allowing Canadians to transport beer and spirits from province to province for their own personal use, something many might not even realize is currently illegal. The change would theoretically allow wineries to ship wine to consumers, something for which they have been lobbying intensely.

—A renewal of efforts to discover what happened to Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin and the lost ships HMS Erebus and Terror. The feds launched another search in 2012 at a cost of $275,000, calling it Canada’s undiscovered historic site.

—The building of a “Memorial to the Victims of Communism.” The government has already pledged $1.5 million for the project near Parliament Hill, and is being led by a group called Tribute to Liberty. It will also celebrate the way Canada provided refuge to those feelings communist regimes, such as Ukraine.

— Completing the Dempster Highway from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk at the Arctic Ocean, a 140-kilometre stretch. This was a Conservative platform promise and $150 million was set aside in the 2012 budget.

—Merging the federal government’s 63 different email systems into one. Ottawa awarded a $400-million contract this summer to Bell Canada to take on the job. It predicts the consolidation will save the government $50 million annually once it is in place.

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