Today is the day. By somewhere around 2 pm, the main event begins, when Her Excellency will arrive on the Hill to begin another Speech from the Throne. I don’t envy the honour guard waiting for inspection in the frigid Ottawa weather, and I hope that Her Excellency will dress warmly for the whole affair.
Hopefully they’ll keep this Speech short and sweet, and not another forty minutes to reiterate the programme they never got around to implementing the last time around due to a convenient prorogation. It’s actually one of those moments where I think that perhaps we should be a little closer to the British model, where the government has to have a speech prepared to close a session that takes stock of their accomplishments, rather than the way that this government has handled both prorogations under its watch.
There is one additional bit of complication this time around, however. You see, normally after a Speech from the Throne has been read, there is up to six days of debates that take place in the Commons on its substance – and that substance is a confidence measure. But with a budget being delivered the very next day, just how do they plan on scheduling the debates on that, since it too is a key confidence measure? And while no government has been brought down over a Throne Speech, what does it signal if the opposition votes for the Speech, but decides to vote down the budget just days later – if indeed it does take place days later, because that budget will have to go to committee, and the opposition could reasonably tie it up there for weeks, should they decide to begin amending it (as the opposition does have the majority on committees in a minority government). Just how will the Government House Leader begin scheduling these conflicting debates in order to ensure a smooth order of Parliamentary business?
I guess we’ll have to see. But I can’t wait for Her Excellency’s arrival, so that we can get back down to business.
(Incidentally, if you’re curious to see what the very first Speech From the Throne in this country looked like, it’s now online and can be found here.)