Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The "transformational" Throne Speech

(crossposted to CanadaEast)

As I type this, Lieutenant-Governor Herménégilde Chiasson is reading the Throne Speech to the members of the legislature.

A copy of the Throne speech can be found here while a news release summarizes the highlights is here.

I will post an update shortly with my thoughts.


Here are some interesting points, some that were highlighted and some that were not, which stood out to me:
  • a lobbyist registry

  • regulation of third-party election spending

  • the capital budget will come with a full economic update, it will be on Dec. 11

  • there will be pre-budget consultations this year (something that did not happen last year)

  • beefing up Service New Brunswick by moving all government-to-public services there (an excellent idea), including business services (which should eliminate a lot of "red tape")

  • pharmacists will be allowed to prescribe some drugs

  • midwives will be introduced officially and legally in the province

  • the separation of the role of Attorney General from that of Minister of Justice (begun under Bernard Lord) will be formalized by creating an office and mandate for the Attorney General by legislation

  • property tax relief for those "least equipped to deal with the tax burden"

  • a new academy to teach leadership skills to teachers and principals

  • an implementation plan for post-secondary reform "early next year"

  • improvements to immigratation (by reducing red tape and improving settlement assistance)

  • $250,000 and a renewed focus on Mt. Carleton Park

  • an official policy on tidal power

  • possible allowance of hunting on Sunday


Here is CBC's take and CP's take.


My take

It is a bit vague in key areas, but Throne Speeches tend to be vague. That said, we have now had a full year of studies and stating bold but vague objectives. As Shawn Graham would say, "the time to act is now!"

I hope the government moves quickly in this session to lay out the details of the change. Key to success will be the Population Growth Strategy and the Implementation Plan for Reform of Post-Seconary Education. I hope we get both of these out well before the budget and then put some money behind htem in March to ensure they are implemented quickly and successfully.


I would post the Tory and NDP reactions but they haven't posted a news release to their respective websites since August 7 and June 11 respectively. I've said it before and I'll say it again, is it really that hard to oppose policies? Why can't these parties get their acts together? If the old adage that a government is only as good as the opposition it faces is true, this government is in deep do-do.


Anonymous said...

Oh no, the CP story ran the headline as "the road to prosperity". Where have we heard that before.

Gypsyblog said...

That tidal power thing seems like a no-brainer, but someone told me that even if it was fully harnessed, the most it could ever amount to is about 90 megawatts (on the new brunswick side), which is not very much. I beleive that's less than one percent of NB Power's current capacity.

It's almost not worth the bother.

nbpolitico said...

That doesn't seem right to me. With the massive tides in the Bay of Fundy, one would assume that it has among the best potential in the world. If even there you can only get 90MW, why did anyone bother to develop the technology in the first place?

I'll have to look into this one.

Rob said...

The last press release on the PCNB website is months old. The link to "In the News" has nothing past last April. Another link, Liberal Reality Check, leads to a blank page. There is a single photo under the Photo heading, and its Steve Harper listening politely to Jeannot Volpe.

This is coming from party that believes it can do nothing, and be thrust back into power in 2010. They are certainly getting busy w/ the doing nothing part.

As far as the Throne Speech goes, I think the Liberal Party forgot a key idea: If you promise big, deliver bigger. The Liberals promised big, transformational change. Deliver bigger, or otherwise its an empty catchphrase.

Gypsyblog said...

Re: tidal power. I think the big potential is over on the Nova Scotia side, for whatever reason.

I wish I knew which consultant(?) came up with this, but basically where I heard it was from David Hay himself. I had occasion to be at a business breakfast type thing where Hay gave a little talk. He said wind power will eventually hit 400 megawatts, which is what they've put out requests for proposals for, but according to some consultant who examined the issue, Hay said, the total harnassable power of the Bay of Fundy tides on the NB side was 90 megawatts.

nbpolitico said...

I gotcha - I guess if it is a matter of us being on the wrong side, that would make more sense to me.

Anonymous said...

Extract from Senator Lowell Murray's speech in the Senate on October 18 2007:

There are always criticisms of Throne Speeches. I am somewhat sensitive to these criticisms because I have had some experience in the drafting process. I have, as the saying goes, held the pen on Throne Speeches in the province of New Brunswick during the Hatfield government and from time to time here in Ottawa. I assure honourable senators that I have written worse Throne Speeches than the one we heard on Tuesday night.

The question that is always before ministers and their political and public service advisers in the run up to the drafting process is "will this Throne Speech be thematic, perhaps with an overarching vision of the country, or is it going to be a Christmas tree on which the baubles of every minister, department, agency and interest are hanging from the branches?" Invariably, we would pledge to each other that this time it would be a thematic Speech from the Throne and almost as often it turned out to be a Christmas tree.

The reason was simple; everyone wants his or her priority mentioned in the Throne Speech. I recall an occasion when some of us brought a draft before a group of ministers, and one minister asked why there was nothing about housing in the speech. The answer was that we had nothing new to announce about housing that year; however, that answer was not good enough. We were sent back to the drawing board to produce a plausible paragraph about housing, which I am sure we did.

In the 1970s in New Brunswick — and Senator Bryden and I were reminiscing about this the other night — we had a Speech from the Throne in which the Lieutenant-Governor solemnly intoned that thenceforth motorists in New Brunswick would be able to make a right turn on a red light. Honourable senators may laugh, but that announcement in the Throne Speech was probably of more interest to more New Brunswickers than almost anything else in it.