O’Toole, Blanchet Set to Give Their Formal Replies to Throne Speech Today

O’Toole, Blanchet Set to Give Their Formal Replies to Throne Speech Today
Conservative Leader and Leader of the Opposition Erin O'Toole speaks to members of the National Caucus in Ottawa on Sept. 9, 2020. (The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld)

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet are set to give their formal replies to the throne speech today after being absent from the House of Commons last week due to COVID-19.

Both leaders, who are expected to take their seats in the House today, were unable to attend the throne speech in person and voiced their disagreement from isolation on Sept. 23 after having tested positive for the virus.

“Post-pandemic, and with high unemployment, we need jobs for Canadians. We don’t need just fine words,” O’Toole said, going on to criticize the throne speech for falling short in such areas as approving saliva tests for COVID-19, helping small business, Western alienation, and foreign policy.

Soon after the speech, Blanchet tweeted: “Ottawa has not listened to the urgent and legitimate demands of Quebec and the provinces.”

The Green Party was the only party to voice support immediately after the throne speech, as it included proposals for zero emission plans, the planting of trees, child-care reforms, and pharmacare.

Deputy Conservative Leader Candice Bergen attended the speech and responded along with Gerard Deltell, House Leader of the Official Opposition, after the nearly hour-long throne speech ended on Sept. 23.

“We are not happy with the speech. We don’t believe it’s what Canadians need,” Bergen said.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was on the fence regarding supporting the speech, saying his main concerns were related to the ending of the Canadian Emergency Recovery Benefit (CERB) and that there was no mention of paid sick leave in the throne speech.

On Sept. 25, however, Singh announced at a press conference that a deal had been reached with the Liberals regarding adding paid sick leave to Bill C-2.

Bill C-2 will be tabled in the House of Commons today and if the changes reflect what was agreed to, Singh said he intends to support the bill and also the throne speech.

Bill C-2 includes:

A Canada Recovery Benefit of $500 per week for up to 26 weeks for people who are not eligible for employment insurance, or those who are self-employed but have lost their income due to the pandemic

A Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit of $500 per week up to two weeks for workers who fall sick or must self-isolate due to COVID-19

A Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit of $500 per week for up to 26 weeks for Canadians who aren’t able to work because they must care for a child or dependent due to closure of schools, care facilities, and daycares caused by COVID-19.