Americas

Canada opens 44th Parliament with blueprint for future

Emphasis on Indigenous relations in light of unmarked children's graves

Barry Ellsworth   | 23.11.2021
Canada opens 44th Parliament with blueprint for future

TRENTON, Canada

The Canadian government laid out its future goals Tuesday in its Speech from the Throne, with an ambitious agenda of passing myriad legislation before Christmas.

It is a packed with predictable agenda, including paid sick leave, child care, benefits for business and individuals who suffered financial loss during the pandemic, better relations with Indigenous communities and criminalization of both forced “conversion therapy” and harassing demonstrations at health care facilities.

The only fly in the ointment is that Trudeau heads a minority government, which means he must garner enough support from other political parties to pass legislation.

A milestone was reached before any recitation of the agenda, as the traditional throne speech was delivered by Mary Simon, Canada’s first Indigenous governor general. As such, she is Queen Elizabeth’s ceremonial head of government.

She mentioned the thorny issue of reconciliation and the finding of unmarked graves of Indigenous children who attended historic Indian Residential Schools.

“They open deep wounds,” Simon said of the discovery of the graves.

But she was optimistic that mutual respect between Canadians and Indigenous backgrounds.

“Together, they are walking the path to reconciliation,” Simon said Tuesday in the throne speech.

There were several steps associated with the pandemic that the government hopes to pass into law were outlined in the speech.

They include all federal employees to be eligible for 10 paid sick days, a move primarily spurred to encourage those with the virus to take time off rather than come to work ill because they cannot afford to suffer the financial loss.

As for anti-vaccination demonstrations at health-care facilities, the government wants to make them a criminal offense, a safety measure for health-care workers who have been subject to harassment.

“We have seen how they have been menaced in a number of circumstances,” Government House leader Mark Holland told reporters in a pre-throne speech press conference Monday that touched on some of the proposals the government hopes to enact.

“I think it is the smallest thing that we can do to make sure that they themselves are safe in their work.”

The issue of continuing some form of financial benefits for those who have lost income due to pandemic restrictions is another goal for the government, as is the promised $10-a-day child-care for provinces.

The Trudeau government also wants to make it a crime to force anyone to undergo so-called “conversion therapy” – most often referring to attempts to turn homosexuals into heterosexuals.

​​​​​​​The opening of the 44th Parliament also marked Justin Trudeau’s third term as prime minister, having won elections in 2015, 2019 and the latest election on Sept. 20, 2021.

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