The Throne Speech was not what we were hoping for from the Harper government. We did not hear any long-term plans or direction beyond the next federal election in 2015 with the exception of the economy. From that perspective it was a disappointment. We were also hoping that the Opposition would step in and provide us with their long-term blueprint but they did not. Another disappointment. Overall, all the parties missed a terrific opportunity.
With that said, we will know in the coming days and weeks the fine details of Prime Minister Harper’s agenda and how it has been received by ordinary citizens outside of Ottawa. From a strategy perspective the Throne Speech is classic Stephen Harper: fiscal and justice plans to satisfy the base while moving to the center with his laundry list of consumer initiatives. Harper is skilled at retail politics and there is a growing list of adversaries who have under estimated his abilities. We are sure that the Speech was tested by focus groups in advance of the Governor General reading it in the Senate.
From our perspective the keys to Harper in the run up to the next federal election are: 1) A balanced budget in 2015 as advertised yesterday; 2) A trade deal with Europe which could be announced as early as today; 3) Plans to reform or abolish the Senate based on guidance received in 2014 from the Supreme Court; 4) Delivering on the consumer agenda outlined in the Throne Speech so that Canadians see the impact. If Harper delivers on these items and the government avoids any significant scandals, the Prime Minister will be able to play offence going into the election.
While we are disappointed with a missed opportunity, Prime Minister Harper has delivered a clever Throne Speech that outlines the government’s legislative agenda. The question now becomes how will it be received by the crowd at Tim Hortons?