Canada calls for foreign, domestic reconciliation
A lower deficit, a better business climate, and improved relations with the United States were all part of the Speech from the Throne that opened Parliament in Ottawa Monday.
The opposition parties were quick to attack the speech saying it was long on rhetoric and short on substance.
The Speech from the Throne is a ceremony to open Parliament, and Governor General Jeanne Sauve, as representative of the Queen in Canada, reads the government's plans for the coming session. It is roughly equivalent to the State of the Union address in the United States.
The big message of the speech was reconciliation. It was contained in the opening remarks: ''Let it also be the beginning of a new era of national reconciliation, economic renewal and social justice.''
In the area of national reconciliation, the government said the Constitution ''is incomplete as long as Quebec is not part of an accord.'' This was received well by the Parti Quebecois government in Quebec City.
The separatist government in Quebec refused the Canadian Constitution in 1982 . Now its constitional spokesman, Justice Minister Pierre Marc Johnson, says, ''I think there's a chance of engaging in a a dialogue in good faith.''
Without saying so it implied that the government would try to repair the damage done by the Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau, which carried on bitter disputes with both Quebec and the western provinces, as well as the business community and labor unions. But there were no direct references to the Liberal government. In a lead editorial the Toronto newspaper, the Globe and Mail, remarked on the ''civil tone'' of the speech.
It appears that Prime Minister Brian Mulroney plans to bring to government the same type of skills he used as a labor negotiator.
The government says it plans to cut the deficit by stimulating the economy and encouraging both foreign and domestic investment. Oppostion leader John Turner jumped on the lack of detail and the conciliatory approach, which he said would study the problem to death.
''Seminar, study, task force, consultation, summit; all the principle areas of the economy and our social life are being put again on the back burner,'' the Liberal Party leader said.
The Progressive Conservatives are going to be a lot friendlier to the United States. They say they will ''restore a spirit of goodwill and true partnership between Canada and the United States.''
Canadian nationalists and the left in Canada won't be pleased with that, nor will they like increased defense spending and a commitment to continue testing the cruise missile in Canada.
Speaking for the government, the governor-general said Canada is ''determined that Canada will again play its full part in the defense systems of NATO,'' a not-too-subtle dig at Trudeau policies that left Canada spending less per capita on NATO than any other alliance member except Luxembourg.
The speech noted that if Canada started pulling its weight, the other members of the NATO alliance would take it more seriously.
While opposition politicians lambasted the Throne Speech - and that after all is the job of opposition politicians - business spokesmen loved it.
''The federal government's priorities are in the right place by relying on the private sector to do the business,'' said Sam Hughes, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
''There's a lot of process here and very little substance,'' said New Democratic Party leader Ed Broadbent.
But Mr. Broadbent admitted that the real meat in the government program will come on Thursday, when Minister of Finance Michael Wilson delivers his economic statement after having had a couple of months to look over the government's books.