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(Nov 02, 2007) On October 16, 2007, the second session of Canada's 39th Parliament was opened with the customary Speech from the Throne. Delivered by the Governor General in a formal atmosphere, Speeches from the Throne are actually written by and for the Prime Minister and lay out the Government's agenda for the coming session. The latest Speech was awaited with great anticipation because the current Conservative government does not have a majority of the seats in the House of Commons, and the failure of the House of Commons to approve the Speech would have resulted in the calling of a national election.

In the Speech from the Throne, the Government announced that it planned to extend Canada's mission in Afghanistan to 2011, cut the federal Goods and Services Tax, create mandatory sentences for certain crimes, amend the law to prohibit persons wearing veils from voting, take steps to reinforce Canadian claims to sovereignty in the Arctic region, and introduce legislation that would result in Canada's cutting greenhouse gas emissions but not meet Canada's obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. The leader of the opposition proposed amendments to the Speech that would have limited Canada's mission in Afghanistan and would have effectively faulted the conservative Government for Canada's failure to meet its Kyoto commitments. This proposal was defeated.

On October 24, 2007, a vote was held on the Speech from the Throne. The largest of the three opposition parties, the Liberals, abstained from voting and the Speech passed by a vote of 126 to 79. The two smaller opposition parties, the New Democratic Party and the Bloc Quebecois, voted against the Speech. The decision of the Liberals to abstain was generally seen as a concession that they are not prepared to contest a general election at the present time. The vote was a major victory for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who was credited with advancing an agenda that incorporated many of his legislative goals while ensuring the survival of his government. (Jennifer Ditchburn, Harper Government Survives Throne Speech Vote as Liberals Abstain, THE CANADIAN PRESS, Oct. 24, 2007, available at

Author: Stephen Clarke More by this author
Topic: Legislative power More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Canada More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 11/02/2007