The speech from the throne came down campaign-style last week, packed with candy and nuts to delight Canadian consumers. It left both opposition leaders and pundits criticizing the Harper government for its lack of vision.
These critics may well be right in the short term, but surely by now we should know to look at Harper’s actions with a wider lens. There are key elements in the speech that are more about tomorrow than today.
Indeed, the speech may represent just the latest piece of Harper’s long-term strategy to cripple the capacity of future federal governments to do much other than uphold a conservative status quo. He has long been laying a practical, political and legislative minefield for those who would dare to head down any more ambitious path.
Lip service from the throne speech: Can justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women ever be found?
At a time when Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples is treading on increasingly thin ice, many are questioning how long it will take before issues of importance to Indigenous populations register on the national agenda.
Last week’s throne speech and the Conservatives’ overwhelming apathy toward the crises faced by Indigenous peoples, including its demeaning references to Indigenous women, suggest that we shouldn’t hold our breath.
Harper's throne speech promises to 'renew efforts' towards missing and murdered Indigenous women: Will that really help?
Social scientists argue that language shapes its speakers' view of reality and determines the scope of the possible for them. If this is true, by looking at the language of the speeches from the throne one is able to gain some insights into political leaders' view of reality.
Their worldview counts indeed because they "are in positions to make decisions having major consequences."
Commentaries on the speeches from the throne normally aim to interpret key ideas that will define the government’s agenda for the months to come. They rarely pay attention to the language of these speeches. Commentators also seldom offer a retrospective and comparative take on the messages coming from the government.
Harper's pre-throne speech media spinners and actual throne speech writers seemed to be on a different page. After delivering a speech from the throne riddled with the "red meat" of conservative rhetoric, Harper notably skipped town.
But what do you think he was running from?