A lack of direction on how and when the Liberal minority government will balance the country's books was one of the biggest issues the MP for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound took with the Throne Speech.
Governor General Julie Payette delivered the Liberals' speech from the Throne last Thursday as Canada's 43rd Parliament commenced in Ottawa.
The first-term Conservative MP for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound Alex Ruff notes there were some positives he heard in the speech that will impact the riding. However, Ruff says the priorities identified in the speech lack specifics and include no details about how the Liberals plan to fund them.
Ruff points to affordable housing, middle class tax cuts, strengthening pensions for seniors, mental health initiatives and the importance of tackling opioid crisis as some government priorities he believes will have a positive impact on the riding.
“Those are some of the positives I heard,” Ruff says. “But I am interested to see how they're going to actually handle it."
But, with all that, Ruff says there was unfortunately a lot of stuff missing from the speech.
First and foremost, Ruff says with all the government priorities in the Throne Speech there was no talk at all about how the Liberals plan to balance the federal budget or how they plan to fund all of their commitments.
“I am concerned of how we're going to pay for all of this,” Ruff says. “And more importantly, how my daughter and future generations are going to be able to afford to pay for some of the promises that were made.”
The Throne Speech included a commitment to pursue national pharmacare and even acknowledged at least considering a public dental care program in some form – two platform priorities of the New Democrats.
“I'm all about taking care of those that need to be taken care of and helping out all Canadians,” Ruff explains. “However, it has to be done with a level of prudence. And we're spending money we don't have and there's no plan and they don't even talk about a plan on how we're actually going to be able to balance the books.”
Ruff notes there was no talk of restoring ethics and accountability to the House of Commons and government – a focus of Conservatives during the election campaign period following several ethics breaches by the Liberals during their last term in office – most notably the SNC Lavalin affair.
“This is something I do believe we'll be able to hold the Liberals to account on through committee work,” Ruff explains.
Some key priorities for many in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound – agriculture and rural broadband internet connectivity – received little to no mention in the government's throne speech, Ruff adds.
And on the government's priority to ban all “military-style” weapons, Ruff says the Liberals have yet to define what they mean.
“As a military guy ... they have yet to define what they mean by an assault rifle,” the Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP says. “I think they're doing it to curb to urban voters without actually understanding what we really need to be targetting, criminals and the root causes of gun violence in our major urban centres.”
A confidence vote on the Throne Speech by Justin Trudeau's Liberal minority government is not expected until the New Year, according to numerous media reports.
Both the Conservatives and New Democrats will reportedly not support it, but the Bloc Quebecois will so the Trudeau Liberals should survive their first test of the House of Commons barring any changes of heart prior to the vote.