Throne speech makes prom­ises on in­fra­struc­ture

Journal Pioneer - - ISLAND NEWS -

As part of an up­com­ing se­niors strat­egy, a new pro­gram will be de­vel­oped to fund prac­ti­cal ser­vices, such as light house­keep­ing or snow re­moval, to make it easier for Is­land se­niors to re­main in their homes.

The speech also prom­ises a new “cre­ative in­dus­try mar­ket de­vel­op­ment pro­gram” to work with artists, en­ter­prises and in­dus­try to grow the cre­ative busi­ness sec­tor, as part of an up­com­ing five-year cul­ture strat­egy.

Elec­toral re­form is ad­dressed, with a prom­ise to ta­ble ref­er­en­dum leg­is­la­tion in 2018 for a sec­ond, bind­ing vote on demo­cratic re­form to be held at the same time as the next provin­cial elec­tion. This leg­is­la­tion will in­clude “a clear ref­er­en­dum ques­tion as well as the rules re­quired for a fair and trans­par­ent process.” Ad­di­tion­ally, gov­ern­ment says it will re­quest the cre­ation of a map to show how the mixed-mem­ber pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion sys­tem that was the win­ning choice in the 2016 plebiscite would ap­pear ge­o­graph­i­cally.

But both Op­po­si­tion Leader James Ayl­ward and Green Leader Peter Be­van-Baker noted the speech in­cluded a num­ber of re-an­nounced com­mit­ments made in throne speeches from 2016 and 2015, in­clud­ing a long-promised Wa­ter Act, a re­view of the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion and Pro­tec­tion of Pri­vacy Act, a new open data plat­form, a poverty re­duc­tion strat­egy and a hous­ing strat­egy.

“We’ve been talk­ing about high-speed in­ter­net since es­sen­tially 2008, we’ve been talk­ing about poverty re­duc­tion since 2011,” Ayl­ward said.

“These is­sues just con­tinue to come up and the gov­ern­ment just keeps mak­ing an­nounce­ments, es­sen­tially re­gur­gi­tat­ing the prom­ises over and over again.” Be­van-Baker agreed, say­ing he felt the speech lacks vi­sion.

“If I was to give the throne speech a ti­tle, it would be ‘We’re go­ing to try again, and this time we might even get it right,’ ” he said.

“That’s the sort of vibe I got from the throne speech.” A pre­vi­ous throne speech com­mit­ment thought to be scrapped has also re-emerged. Last year, MacLauch­lan an­nounced he would elim­i­nate po­lit­i­cal do­na­tions from cor­po­ra­tions, busi­nesses and unions en­tirely and place a cap only on do­na­tions from in­di­vid­u­als of $1,500 a year. Six months later, he back­tracked, say­ing he would con­tinue to al­low cor­po­rate do­na­tions and, in­stead, im­pose a cap of $3,000 for po­lit­i­cal do­na­tions.

The new throne speech says gov­ern­ment will now re­lease a “dis­cus­sion doc­u­ment on cam­paign fi­nance re­form.” Im­mi­nent fed­eral dead­lines for car­bon pric­ing and cannabis le­gal­iza­tion were ad­dressed broadly in the speech, with de­tails promised even­tu­ally on a car­bon tax and leg­is­la­tion in the spring for le­gal cannabis. Those de­tails and more par­tic­u­lars about how all the ini­tia­tives and projects in the throne speech are to be de­vel­oped will be re­vealed in the full­ness of time, MacLauch­lan said.

“The na­ture of a throne speech is to be sure that the peo­ple, and the me­dia, see what it is that’s in the works.”

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