PARLIAMENT HILL—Prime Minister Stephen Harper laid out his government’s priorities for the new sitting of Parliament in a speech Wednesday.
The PM spoke during the Tories’ regular Wednesday caucus meeting but allowed reporters in to cover the normally closed event.
He outlined four priorities for the government: families; crime; historical celebrations; and the economy.
With Idle No More continuing to launch events across North America, his omission of aboriginal affairs was noted by some politicians and commentators.
Harper touted his party’s focus.
“Seven years ago, for the first time, Canadians placed their trust in this government. And to that trust we have been faithful. We have kept our promises,” he said.
He went on to praise the government’s job creation record while noting the still-fragile global economy.
The Conservative Party was the party of families he said, pointing to the $100/month Universal Child Care Benefit as proof.
“We support families in every area of government—promoting better health, a cleaner environment, strengthened consumer safety. … But there is much more to do.”
That includes fighting crime. The PM signalled a new round of anti-crime legislation, saying too many Canadians are still victims.
“Despite years of unceasing effort, there remain many areas requiring determined action in our criminal justice system,” he said, pledging unceasing efforts.
Red tape must go … and taxes must stay low.
— Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Harper paid special attention to upcoming celebrations of historical events, including the centennial of World War I and what would be Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald’s 200th birthday if he were still alive.
“We’re already commemorating the conception of our country during the War of 1812, the struggle that united Canadians and defined our land as forever separate from the United States,” he said.
“These milestones remind us of a proud national story rooted in the great deeds of our ancestors and in a centuries-old constitutional legacy of freedom.”
Economy Top Priority
But the top priority will be the same as it has always been—the economy, he said.
“We as a government will never forget that the key to the hopes and dreams of Canadians is the prosperity of this land. So hear me on this, my friends. For you, for me, for all of us, the economy is still job one.”
He promised the government would focus on economic growth and long-term prosperity. That would be done through supporting training for future employment needs, investing in technology, and business innovation.
“Red tape must go … and taxes must stay low.” he said
During question period Wednesday, Liberal leader Bob Rae asked Harper why aboriginal affairs were not among his priorities.
Harper said the economy was the number one priority for all Canadians, implying that that meant aboriginal Canadians as well.
“This government is involved in a historic consultation process with First Nations across this country to develop a more effective education system,” he said.
“We recognize the tremendous potential that aboriginal people of the next generation will have and that is why we want to make sure we make investments in our education system that will get us the results that we need.”
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