'Our humble wish that your Excellency is not burdened in future with frivolous requests for prorogation'

The prepared text of Michael Ignatieff’s speech in reply to the Speech from the Throne.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Prime Minister shut down Parliament, he said, to “recalibrate” the government’s agenda. We were told to expect vision, ambition, great plans in the Speech from the Throne.

There is none of that here.

“Recalibration” was a fiction. A flimsy excuse from a Prime Minister who gambled on cynicism and lost.

Canadians saw through it. And our response was clear: Don’t mess with us. Don’t mess with our Parliament. Don’t mess with our democracy.

Everyone in Canada knows why the Prime Minister shut down Parliament. He sought to dodge questions about the Afghan detainee scandal.

But those questions won’t go away.

The government can try to cover up the truth—and they have. They have censored documents. Intimidated witnesses. Slandered whistleblowers.

Now they’re trying to hide behind Justice Iacobucci. But they haven’t even asked him to get at the truth—just to decide which evidence Parliament and the people will get to see—and we still haven’t seen his written mandate.

Justice Iacobucci is the right man for the wrong job.

De ce côté de la Chambre, nous avons été clairs : dans le scandale des détenus afghans, rien de moins que la vérité ne peut satisfaire le Parlement.

Parce que les Canadiens méritent la vérité.

Alors, grâce à ce gouvernement, nous avons un déficit démocratique, en plus d’un déficit budgétaire.

Sur le plan économique, le gouvernement, après plus de deux mois de prorogation avait promis un discours du Trône tourné vers l’innovation et les emplois de demain.

Là non plus, le gouvernement n’a pas livré.

The Throne Speech will only be remembered for one of the most remarkable flip-flops in the history of Throne Speeches—a promise to change O Canada that lasted approximately 48 hours.

The Prime Minister apparently thought to himself, we’re in the worst economic downturn in half a century. 1.6 million Canadians are out-of-work. Our pensions system is in crisis. And Canadian women are still making 72 cents on the dollar.

You know what we need? New words to O Canada.

So the real question is, what’s the next Throne Speech promise to be tossed overboard? Which gimmick will go next?

This Throne Speech is defined by its gimmicks. It’s full of them.

At a time when our seniors need help, what do they get? Seniors Day.

Our veterans? Vimy Day.

We support Vimy Day. We support Seniors Day, too. But does the Prime Minister seriously believe these are adequate responses? Will they even begin to address the challenges that our veterans, our seniors, and our families face?

On jobs and innovation, this Throne Speech doesn’t hold water—it treads water.

Les Conservateurs n’ont toujours pas compris que nous sommes devant une transformation profonde de l’économie mondiale.

Le Canada doit se préparer pour un monde nouveau. L’énergie sera plus coûteuse. La pollution aura un prix. Le dollar canadien vaudra autant que le dollar américain. Le savoir des Canadiens sera notre principale ressource. Et les marchés les plus dynamiques seront la Chine et l’Inde, pas les États-Unis.

C’est dans ce monde que nos jeunes vont grandir et devoir trouver du travail pour nourrir leur famille. Le Discours du Trône est muet sur les défis qui les attendent.

Les travailleurs canadiens comprennent les défis de notre époque.

Mais leur gouvernement n’est pas à l’écoute.

This Throne Speech leaves our shared destiny to chance—to laissez-faire.

Look at healthcare. Our families depend on world-class medical care, diagnostics, and treatment, in every region of the country.

We still haven’t met the challenge of access in rural and remote communities—where families cope with a lack of specialists and mental health services and paediatrics and care for the elderly.

The federal government has a positive—and indispensible—role to play here. We have to work with the provinces and territories and our rural communities to strengthen rural and remote health care—and we have to start now.

That’s the message I got, loud and clear, at our roundtable discussion in Guelph last month.

Our population is getting older. Our workforce is getting smaller. The passage of time will make the strain on our healthcare system more acute and more widespread.

But rather than meet the challenge, this government is running away.

Getting healthcare costs under control is crucial. The long-term solution has to be health promotion, and prevention, and education—so we have more health, and less healthcare.

But there’s nothing here on health promotion or illness prevention or community-based health.

Tommy Douglas used to talk about the “Second Stage of Medicare”—about keeping people healthy, keeping them out of the healthcare system in the first place.

Well, after four decades, it’s about time we got started.

This is the kind of forward-looking policy Canadian families expected, after two months of “re-calibration.” We expected policy to ease the pressures that squeeze our lives.

But what does this government offer? Nothing.

Pour des millions de familles canadiennes, l’enjeu immédiat, c’est de prendre soin d’un parent qui vieillit et d’assurer l’éducation des enfants.

Ces familles sont abandonnées par le gouvernement.

Nous sommes plongés dans une crise des pensions qui menace des millions d’aînés et de travailleurs âgés.

Et quelle est la réponse du gouvernement?

Il crée le Jour des aînés!

Si ce gouvernement crée un jour dédié à tout ce qu’il laisse tomber, nous aurons une année de congé!

À quand :

Le jour des chômeurs?

Le jour du déficit?

Le jour de la vérité?

On ne peut pas bâtir l’avenir sur de pareilles bébelles.

The federal government is responsible for the ties that bind us as one country. This government is casually relinquishing that responsibility.

We must do more—to give life to our compassion, to keep our country together. That’s what we will always stand for, on this side of the House.

But if this Throne Speech is defined by unmet expectations, it is equally defined by missed opportunities.

Nowhere is this more remarkable than on clean energy. This government is missing in action.

You can’t promise a sweeping strategy for innovation and the jobs of tomorrow, and then ignore clean energy and clean technology.

While the world is racing into the future, the Conservatives are blazing a trail to the present.

Rien n’illustre plus clairement le manque de vision de ce gouvernement que son inaction totale en matière d’énergie propre. C’est une approche idéologique qui est en train d’isoler le Canada.

Aux États-Unis, le président Obama investit six fois plus par habitant que notre premier ministre dans la recherche sur les énergies propres.

Au moment où nous nous parlons, les emplois de demain sont créés ailleurs. Soit nous agissons maintenant, soit nous passons la prochaine décennie à le regretter.

Ce gouvernement fait reculer le Canada.

But the missed opportunity of clean energy is even bigger than jobs and innovation—it has indirect consequences for every Canadian industry, and every Canadian family.

Right now, we’ve got oil trading at 80 dollars a barrel—and the world economy is still fighting off recession. Recovery will spur demand, and prices will rise.

High energy costs are good for Canada’s energy sector—for natural gas in B.C. and Atlantic Canada, oil in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

But high energy costs hurt every other sector of the economy, putting jobs at risk—and they hurt Canadian families, when they show up on the heating bill at the end of the month.

This Throne Speech was an opportunity to meet this challenge head-on—to assert federal leadership in making Canada the most energy-efficient economy in the world, powered by renewables, tied together with clean energy infrastructure and “smart” grids.

The government could have made renewable power a national priority, with coordinated efforts from Ottawa and the provinces.

But the Conservatives missed this opportunity, too.

Last fall, they actually cancelled Canada’s flagship federal renewable program, ecoENERGY. In the United States, the comparable program was extended until 2012.

L’approche des Conservateurs en matière d’innovation, d’enseignement et de recherche est un autre rendez-vous manqué avec l’avenir.

Ce gouvernement a sabre 148 millions de dollars dans les conseils de recherche l’an dernier.

Il a coupé 160 millions de dollars à l’Agence spatiale canadienne; il a supprimé le Conseil national des sciences; et il a sabordé 50 ans de leadership canadien en médecine nucléaire.

The Conservatives are renovating university and college buildings, while cutting funding for the research that goes on inside.

And so, rather than make a long-term commitment to building a knowledge economy, the Conservatives giveth, and the Conservatives taketh away.

It’s unclear how the government imagined they could assemble a credible innovation agenda without a comprehensive commitment to learning—starting with world-class early learning and childcare, right through post-secondary and research. Working with provinces and territories to fight illiteracy. Providing enhanced language training for new immigrants.

That’s how we Liberals want to develop a workforce for the new world economy. That’s how we would create opportunities for our kids. That’s how we would invest in Canadians.

Au lieu d’un avenir plein de promesses, ce gouvernement nous annonce des années de vaches maigres.

Les Conservateurs ont promis de geler les dépenses des ministères. Mais quels programmes vont-ils couper? On ne sait pas.

Cet année, c’est l’année du couteau. L’année prochaine, s’annonce déjà comme l’année de la hache.

Ils vont nous justifier les coupures avec la récession. Mais c’est plutôt leur incompétence qui est la cause de notre déficit.

The Conservatives promise cuts and freezes to the programs Canadian families count on. Meanwhile, the government is spending 570 million dollars each year on management consultants.

That’s almost a 200 percent increase over the previous Liberal government, and it’s a waste.

Spending in the Prime Minister’s own department is up 22 percent, more than 13 million dollars.

Meanwhile, the Finance Minister just spent three thousand dollars on a photo-op and a cup of coffee. I hope it was an exceptional double-double.

Le discours du Trône montre le choix devant les Canadiens : d’un côté, laisser-aller, laisser-faire, chacun pour soi, avec un gouvernement qui ne vous offre que cinq ans d’austérité, de coupures, et de gels.

De l’autre, une alternative libéral. Nous croyons qu’un bon gouvernement peut protéger les gens d’aujourd’hui, et préparer un avenir d’emploi et de créativité pour demain. Nous croyons dans un gouvernement qui unit les Canadiens, et non les divise.

The choice for Canadians is becoming clear.

On the one hand, laissez-faire and cuts. On the other hand, a government that believes in uniting Canadians around the shared national project of readying our great people, for the opportunities of tomorrow.

Ce discours du Trône aurait pu être un investissement dans l’avenir des Canadiens. Dans les soins de santé et les pensions. Dans les énergies propres et l’innovation.

Mais ce n’est pas la voie choisie par ce gouvernement. Il a choisi les gadgets, les coupes aveugles et l’idéologie du laissez-faire.

Ce n’est pas un Canada qui nous ressemble. Ce n’est surtout pas un Canada qui nous rassemble.

Un Canada fort et uni; un Canada éduqué et en santé; un Canada vert et ouvert sur le monde; un grand Canada, riche des plus grands espoirs et des rêves de sa jeunesse.

C’est ce Canada que nous voulons bâtir avec les Canadiens et que nous voulons célébrer.

This Throne Speech wasn’t just disappointing—it was unnecessary. It was damage control, after the Prime Minister shut down Parliament. Every paragraph makes that clear.

And so now, therefore, I move that the motion be amended, by deleting the period and adding the following:

…and offers our humble wish that your Excellency is not burdened in future with frivolous requests for prorogation.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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