It's a shame it was below zero in the Nation's Capital, because it would have been classy to watch Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean arrive at the Peace Tower in a horse-drawn landau. Instead, we saw her pull up in a black limousine, and give her inspection of the honour guard while her twenty-one gun salute went off in the background. And by the way? She looked fantastic in that long, tailored cream coat with the above-the-knee boots. And not only does this particular Governor General inspect the honour guard, she also deviates a little and talks to the band while she's at it.
Inside the Centre Block, Her Excellency was met by the Prime Minister and his wife. Laureen Harper, by the way, was dressed in a shapeless and garish shiny pink outfit. Laureen, honey – you're a notorious fag hag in the Conservative Party. Could you not have called one of your closeted Conservatives up to give you a wardrobe check before you left 24 Sussex? Because that ensemble was a cry for help.
Contrast that to Her Excellency's own wardrobe choice. It was business with an understated sexiness – a tailored black suit jacket with a bustle (that she pulled off flawlessly), and an ankle-length black skirt that fell straight, and she wore it well. I also noticed that Her Excellency was travelling solo today, her husband Jean-Daniel Lafond nowhere to be seen, and the consort's throne similarly absent from the Senate Chamber when Her Excellency arrived to begin the ceremony.
Tricorn hats, white gloves, the Usher of the Black Rod, the Sergeant-At-Arms carrying the Mace from the Commons to the Senate – pomp and pageantry, baby!
The Supreme Court Justices were also all in attendance, and careful observers will notice that there were only eight Justices present instead of nine. That's because there is one vacancy on the bench that Harper is currently in the process of filling. (Shameless plug: I have a story on the nominated justice in the current Capital Xtra). And Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin? The woman knows chic eyewear, I will grant you that, and with that haircut, she can pull off the scarlet robes without coming across like Mrs. Claus. Good on her.
Once the MPs had arrived, the 143rd Speech From the Throne began, and it lasted a good forty minutes. It began sounding all very virtuous and noble, talking about the 250th anniversary of democratic government in Nova Scotia, and recalled our sacrifices in two world wars and Her Excellency's own enslaved ancestors to talk about how great and important our freedom and democracy is. And it all segued clumsily into the economy, and then time stood still. Or at least that's how it felt. It wasn't even a speech so much as it was a cut-and-pasted collection of talking points that went on, and on, and on… The government got cute when they tried to talk about structural deficits versus not balancing the books, so as not to look like it's their fault that we'll soon be in the red.
Hockey metaphor, out of the blue! Just to make sure that we were paying attention.
Other highlights (if you can call them that) included "reviewing programme spending" (aka cutting government programmes), lip service to affordable housing and homelessness, making sure justice is "swift", a shout out to the troops in Afghanistan, and oh look – a commitment to a wholly unconstitutional process of attempting to "reform" the Senate without any thought as to the unintended consequences of their actions. So really, same old, same old.
Where do we go from here? Next up is six days of debates in the Commons on adopting the Speech, which is going to pass because Stéphane Dion said that while he's not happy about it, he's not going to bring the government down over it.
Incidentally, I dug up an amusing tale about Usher of the Black Rod, and how the Senate debated amending the title from "Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod" when a female Usher was appointed, and how the debate over its French translation became that much more important as the old title included the words "verge noir," which could mean Black Rod, or alternately, "black penis." And yet, they managed to come to a sensible conclusion.