Throne speech kicks off Parliament with nod to agriculture

“On this and other trade agreements, those in the supply management sectors will be fully and fairly compensated, with many farmers in the dairy sector receiving their first cheques this month.” – Gov. General Julie Payette, reading from the Throne Speech.
 Photo: Reuters/Blair Gable

The federal throne speech opening the first session of Canada’s 43rd Parliament further committed the Liberal minority government to combating climate change, supporting natural resource sectors and removing international trade barriers.

Including a pledge to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, the speech, delivered Thursday in Ottawa, showed the government again demonstrating its commitment to a price on carbon.

“And while the government takes strong action to fight climate change, it will also work just as hard to get Canadian resources to new markets, and offer unwavering support to the hardworking women and men in Canada’s natural resources sectors, many of whom have faced tough times recently,” said Governor General Julie Payette.

“This means moving forward with the new NAFTA to maintain a strong and integrated North American economy.”

The speech also committed the federal government to supporting supply management.

“On this and other trade agreements, those in the supply management sectors will be fully and fairly compensated, with many farmers in the dairy sector receiving their first cheques this month,” said Payette.

There was also a commitment to removing barriers for domestic and international trade.

Written by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office but read by Payette, the speech focused heavily on national unity and shared common goals; a natural theme to take given the recent divisive election that resulted in a minority government.

Details on the policy initiatives brought up in the throne speech will likely be included to a degree in the mandate letters being issued to Trudeau’s cabinet members. It’s expected those letters will be presented in the coming days, with some speculating they could come as soon as Friday.

Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has already outlined some of what is expected to be found in her mandate letter.

In a speech delivered in French earlier this week, she committed to continuing to work with egg and poultry producers to finalize compensation they will receive from the CETA and CPTPP trade deals (the most recent budget allocated $3.9 billion for sectors affected by trade negotiations).

“As you know, I am convinced of the importance of our supply management system,” Bibeau told the audience in French. “I can assure you that our government will continue to protect it and will not give up new shares of the market.”

She has also committed to reviewing business risk management programs, saying she is paying “particular attention” to the AgriStability program.

“I will be meeting with all the provincial and territorial ministers of agriculture, with the goal of making improvements to this program as early as 2020,” she said.

Bibeau is also on record as saying farmers should be recognized for their work to curb greenhouse gas emissions, and has made it clear she is aware of complaints regarding high costs of natural gas and propane being used to dry grain.

Gun control, a pharmacare plan and commitment to Indigenous reconciliation were also heavily featured in the speech.

“This fall, Canadians sent a clear message: they want their Parliamentarians to work together on the issues that matter most to them. We have a mandate from Canadians to fight climate change, strengthen the middle class, walk the road of reconciliation, keep people safe and healthy, and position our country for success in an uncertain world. Canadians have chosen to keep moving forward, and this is our plan to do just that,” said Trudeau in a statement.

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