The issue: Big chair talk
We say: Small details matter
Usually a politically crafted speech like the one Governor General Julie Payette delivered on behalf of Liberal Prime Minister Justin “off diesel in a decade” Trudeau sets the stage for a stable of salty reporters and pundits to opine for more details.
The 2020 Speech from the Throne was delivered with almost all of the pomp and circumstance that accompanies the mandate-setting address and the return of members to Parliament, plus some social distancing. The includes the comically long walk for the Usher of the Black Rod from the Senate chambers, housed in a former train station in Ottawa while part of Parliament is undergoing renovations, to the House of Commons, which Payette as the representative of the Queen is explicitly forbidden from entering.
The ceremony was not lacking in spectacle, but specific mention of the North was, leaving those hungry-for-meat-on-the-bone pundits padding at the air like a cat chasing a laser pointer.
For a government with the stated intent of getting every remote Northern community off diesel for electricity generation by 2030 and which wears reconciliation on its lapel like a Boy Scout badge, this was out of character.
Premier Caroline Cochrane had eyes for the subtext, however. She told News/North after the address that though the highly praised Northern Policy Framework never danced off the end of Payette’s tongue, many topics that concern Northerners did: dealing directly with First Nations, Metis and Indigenous partners to improve food security, combating discrimination in police organizations, housing, child care, high speed internet access and clean water.
“I was quite excited actually,” Cochrane said. There were some (items) that were specific to the North that I thought were really good.
“Although it’s not in the Speech from the Throne, it doesn’t mean that things that are important to the NWT won’t be lobbied for as we move forward.”
Indeed, days later, Trudeau announced a $10 billion job-creating infrastructure program, more of the kind of targeted funding GNWT grant writers can set their sights on.
The pandemic set each and every one of us back. But our collective recovery and the support governments are creating on the fly at all levels present an opportunity, which the premier wisely perceives, to rebuild Canada and the Northwest Territories with a new vision that doesn’t leave anyone behind.
That said, even our MP, Liberal Michael McLeod, went on a bit of a search for the details on how exactly this brave new world will come to be.
These “actual measures” are anxiously awaited.
As McLeod said: “there has to be more.”