Throne Speech vows austerity and prosperity

The federal government will freeze Parliamentarians’ salaries, but it promises not to burden fixed-income or middle-income Canadians with cuts.After nearly two months of being prorogued, a new session of Parliament opened Wednesday. MPs and senators gathered on Parliament Hill to hear the Governor General deliver the Speech from the Throne.

It was the longest throne speech to date, as Michaëlle Jean took about 80 minutes to deliver what the Harper government calls Canada’s Economic Action Plan.

Overall the speech offered the government’s approach for achieving fiscal balance, by cutting back on spending.

The Throne Speech promised the government would look to Canadians’ pocketbooks for money to support attempts to reduce the deficit, but said that cuts would not affect the most vulnerable.

“It will not come by cutting transfer payments for health care and education or by raising taxes on hard-working Canadians,” Jean said. “These are simply excuses for a federal government to avoid controlling spending.”

Government plans  to cap the salaries of all federal ministers, senators and their department budgets. Not even the Prime Minister will be exempt from the salary freeze, the Throne Speech promised.

The speech also included new initiatives that have been a part of the Conservative government’s priority on violent crime. The government plans changes to criminal laws so that those convicted of sexual offences against children receive stricter penalties.

Government will introduce laws bringing in tougher sentences for multiple murderers: “Life means life and requiring that violent offenders serve their time in jail, not in the luxury of home,” the speech set out.

Ottawa also plans to investment in ‘green’ initiatives, job creation and stability, as well as further funding of “world-class” Canadian athletes.

The federal government is expected to attach specific dollar allocations to these plans Thursday, when Jim Flaherty, the finance minister brings down the budget.