Speech from the Throne
to open the Second Session
Forty First Parliament of Canada


16 October 2013
Ottawa, Ontario

5 :02 p.m.

Honourable Senators,
Members of the House of Commons,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Let us begin this day together by honouring in silent reflection those whose lives were tragically taken at Lac- Mégantic.

I come before you today as one proud Canadian among a vast nation of these, sincere in congratulation on this opening day of the Second Session of the Forty-first Parliament of Canada. I bear the happy wishes and deep affection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, whose family has this year been blessed with the birth of Prince George.

Parliamentarians, you gather today with the high confidence and higher expectation of Canadians. Remember that our nation has embraced a unique set of indelible qualities that must guide your deliberations in this Parliament.

Consider this: we are inclusive. We are 35 million people gathered from every part of the world. We welcome the contribution of all those who inhabit this land - from the first of us to the latest among us. This year, we celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation. This extraordinary document is part of the legal foundation of our country. It recognized the rights of Aboriginal people in Canada for the first time and established the basis of their relations with the Crown.

Consider this: we are honourable. People of peace, we use our military power sparingly; but when we do so we do so with full conviction, gathering our forces as men and women who believe that the freedoms we enjoy cannot be taken from us. This clarity focuses our might in terrible times. And wherever and whenever we unleash that might, we raise our grateful voices and our prayers to honour those who have stood in harm's way for us.

Consider this: we are selfless. Our survival has been sustained by humility and acceptance of our mutual interdependence. Giving lies in our very nature, certain in our hearts that none but the gift passed from an open hand will multiply as those we help better themselves, those they love and, at length, the country they call home.

Consider this: we are smart. We deplore self-satisfaction, yearning rather for self-improvement. We love learning and cherish our right to it. We are united, prosperous and free precisely because we ensure that Canadians have opportunities to learn, excel, advance, and thus to contribute.

Consider this: we are caring. Our abiding concern for the common good of our neighbours - in each community - makes us responsive. We do not abandon our fellows to scrape by in times of distress or natural disaster. Inspired by our common bond, we come swiftly and resiliently to the aid of those in need.

Today, as we contemplate our 150th anniversary, the eyes and ears and expectations of Canadians turn toward this Parliament, in trust that those who stand here in their place will relentlessly advance and uphold ideas that are inclusive, honourable, selfless, smart and caring at every turn without fail.

Let us not disappoint. And with that spirit and direction, let us turn now to the present.

Two and a half years ago, Canadians gave our Government a strong mandate: a mandate to protect jobs and our economy; a mandate to keep taxes low; a mandate to make our families and communities safe.

Despite ongoing uncertainty and instability from beyond our shores, our Government remains focused on these priorities. We made tough choices - the right choices for Canadian families. The results are clear: more Canadians have good jobs than ever before; families are paying lower taxes; our financial house is in order.

As the world looks to recovery, a rare opportunity now lies before us as Canadians: the opportunity to build on our ingenuity, our immense natural wealth, and our values and stability; the opportunity to secure the future, for our generation, and our children's generation. It is the opportunity to lead the world in security and prosperity - not for the sake of doing so, but so that Canadian families who work hard, pay their taxes and play by the rules can get ahead.

This is Canada's moment; together we will seize it.

And as we do, we draw inspiration from our founders, leaders of courage and audacity. Nearly 150 years ago, they looked beyond narrow self-interest. They faced down incredible challenges - geographic, military, and economic. They were undaunted. They dared to seize the moment that history offered. Pioneers, then few in number, reached across a vast continent. They forged an independent country where none would have otherwise existed.

In the words of Thomas D'Arcy McGee:

"I see in the not remote distance one great nationality bound, like the shield of Achilles, by the blue rim of ocean. I see it quartered into many communities, each disposing of its internal affairs, but all bound together by free institutions...''

With hard work, sacrifice and common sense, those Canadian men and women built this country. In so doing, they founded a constitutional democracy, among the most enduring history has known. As we look to the 150th anniversary of our Confederation, we are reminded that ours is a rich inheritance: a legacy of freedom; the birthright of all humanity and the courage to uphold it; the rule of law, and the institutions to protect it; respect for human dignity and diversity.

Guided by these values, we Canadians - Aboriginal, French, English, people from all corners of the globe - strive together for our families and a brighter future. We are on the cusp of a moment that is uniquely Canada's.

Just as our founders dared, so too must we.

We must seize this moment to secure prosperity, for Canadians now, and the generations to follow.

1. Creating Jobs and Opportunities for Canadians

Balanced Budgets and Reducing the Cost of Government

Creating jobs and securing economic growth is and will remain our Government's top priority.

When disaster struck the world economy, our Government's decisive and pragmatic leadership navigated Canada through the worst global recession in a generation.

Even before the recession hit, our Government was prepared. It maintained budget surpluses and paid down billions from the national debt. It lowered taxes for Canadians and job-creating businesses.

During the downturn, our Government's Economic Action Plan took the steps necessary to safeguard our economy. It protected Canadian jobs. It invested in infrastructure and productivity. And it controlled spending, while maintaining growing transfers that support health care, education and retirement.

In spite of continuing risks from beyond our shores, our Government is leading the world by example. It secured the commitment of the world's largest economies to put in place credible plans to achieve financial sustainability. And it set clear targets to bring our own deficit down. Canada now leads the G-7 - in job creation; in income growth; and in keeping debt levels low.

Canada is now among only a few countries in the world with a triple-A credit rating.

By taking decisive action Canada has stayed strong where others have faltered. But we cannot be complacent. The global economy still faces significant risks from factors that we do not control. We must stay the course. And sound management remains our Government's guide.

Canadian families know they cannot prosper by continually spending more than they earn. Our Government is no different.

Just as our Government manages debt, so too is it tackling spending. Every day, Canadian families make tough choices about how to spend their hard-earned money. Guided by this example, our Government will continue reducing the size and cost of Government to ensure that taxpayers get value for money.

Jobs for Canadians

Canadians want good, well-paying, stable jobs. And our country needs Canadians working.

Canadians know that businesses create jobs. So our Government lowered their tax burden and cut red tape.

Canada now has the best job creation record in the G-7 - one million net new jobs since the depths of the recession. These are overwhelmingly full-time, well-paying, private sector jobs.

But our Government is not stopping here.

Canada has one of the best-educated workforces in the world. But there are too many people without jobs and too many jobs without people.

Trade

From the days of the coureurs des bois and the Hudson's Bay Company, Canada has been a trading nation. Today, with one in five Canadian jobs dependent on exports, our prosperity hinges on opening new markets for Canadian goods, services and investment.

This is why our Government launched the most ambitious trade agenda in Canadian history. In less than seven years, Canada has concluded new free-trade agreements with nine countries and our Government is negotiating further agreements involving more than 60 others.

Resource Development

Since Canada's earliest days, our economy has been built on our abundant natural resources. Directly and indirectly, the natural resource sector employs 1.8 million Canadians, many in skilled, high-paying jobs. Resource development generates 30 billion dollars annually in revenue that supports health care, education and programs Canadians cherish.

Canada's energy reserves are vast - sufficient to fuel our growing economy and supply international customers for generations to come. However, for Canadians to benefit fully from our natural resources we must be able to sell them. A lack of key infrastructure threatens to strand these resources at a time when global demand for Canadian energy is soaring.

We must seize this moment. The window for gaining access to new markets will not remain open indefinitely. Now more than ever, our future prosperity depends on responsible development of these resources. At the same time, our Government has taken action to ensure that Canada's resources do not fall under foreign government control.

Our Government believes, and Canadians expect, that resource development must respect the environment. Our Government's plan for responsible resource development includes measures to protect against spills and other risks to the environment and local communities. Our Government will:

Farms, Fisheries, Forestry

Canada was built on the work of farmers, fishermen, and foresters. They work hard to feed our families and sustain rural communities.

Our Government will continue to protect and promote Canada's traditional industries.

Infrastructure

Infrastructure investment creates jobs, supports trade, drives productivity and contributes in a fundamental way to growth and long-term prosperity.

For Canadians balancing the pressures of work and daily life, investment in our roads, bridges and transportation networks means less congestion, shorter commutes and more time with family. That's why, in Economic Action Plan 2013, our Government launched the new Building Canada Plan, the largest long-term federal commitment to infrastructure in Canadian history.

Shipbuilding and Manufacturing

Science and Technology

Our Government's leadership in science and technology helps Canadian business remain competitive while creating high-paying jobs. Since 2006, our Government has invested more than 9 billion dollars to support science, technology and innovative companies operating at the outer limits of knowledge.

Canada now leads G-7 countries in post-secondary research investment.

Small Business and Tourism

Canada's spectacular beauty attracts visitors from across the globe to every region of our country. These visitors create jobs and sustain local economies. Our Government will continue to work with industry partners to promote Canada as a top destination for tourism.

Our Government has reduced the red tape burden on small and medium-sized businesses. There are now fewer regulations and the cost of red tape has been reduced by nearly 20 million dollars annually.

2. Supporting and Protecting Canadian Families

Keeping Taxes Low

Canadians work hard for their money. And we know families are better placed to make spending decisions than governments. That is why our Government has lowered taxes, year after year - for families, for businesses, for each and every Canadian.

For example, our Government:

Overall, the federal tax burden is at its lowest level in half a century. As a result of our Government's low-tax plan, the average Canadian family now pays 3,200 dollars less in taxes every year. Our Government has a proven record of cutting taxes for Canadian families. We have delivered on our promises. And, once the budget is balanced, our Government is committed to greater tax relief for Canadian families.

Defending Canadian Consumers

Canadian families work hard to make ends meet, and every dollar counts. While companies will look out for their bottom line, our Government is looking out for everyday Canadians.

When Canadians make decisions about how to spend their money, they must be assured of a voice, a choice, and fair treatment. For example, although Canadians are among the most digitally connected in the world, we also pay some of the highest wireless rates in the developed world. As families know - especially families with teenagers - the monthly bills add up.

Our Government has already taken action to achieve greater competition. Canadians know that competition is good for everyone. Competition lowers prices and keeps businesses from becoming complacent. As a result, wireless rates have fallen nearly 20 per cent since 2008.

But there is much more work to do.

And our Government will take additional action to protect Canadian consumers. Canadians are tired of hidden fees. They deserve to know the real cost of paying by debit or credit card. And they should not be charged more in Canada for identical goods that sell for less in the United States.

Our Government will:

Supporting Victims and Punishing Criminals

Our Government believes that the justice system exists to protect law-abiding citizens and our communities. For too long, the voices of victims have been silenced, while the system coddled criminals. Our Government has worked to re- establish Canada as a country where those who break the law are punished for their actions; where penalties match the severity of crimes committed; where the rights of victims come before the rights of criminals.

Safeguarding Families and Communities

Families are the cornerstone of our society. Families raise our children and build our communities. As our families succeed, Canada succeeds.

Our Government understands the daily pressures ordinary Canadian families face. And it is working to strengthen families, not replace them. That's why our Government took money from bureaucrats and lobbyists and gave it to the real experts on child care - mom and dad. Our Government's Universal Child Care Benefit provides 1,200 dollars a year to parents to help with the costs of raising kids.

Our Government will also support hard-working Canadian families in other ways.

Our Government will also:

Canadian families expect safe and healthy communities in which to raise their children. They want to address poverty and other persistent social problems, access safe and reliable infrastructure, and enjoy a clean and healthy environment.

Our Government will:

Since before Confederation, Canada has relied on railways for the movement of goods and passengers. It is no different today. New economic opportunities still require rail to link Canadian goods to waiting markets.

The first responders and ordinary Canadians who came together to confront the recent disasters in Lac-Mégantic and Alberta showed courage under the most dire circumstances. The Government has always stood with communities in times of crisis and recovery.

3. Putting Canada First

Supporting Our Armed Forces

Government has no higher obligation than the protection of national sovereignty and the security of citizens. And Canadians know that you cannot earn respect by projecting weakness. Serious countries have serious capabilities.

Look at the paintings that adorn this room - scenes of the Great War. They remind us of this, and of the profound sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform. These heroes are the pride of our country and the backbone of our history.

After a decade of darkness, our Government has been living up to our promise to give the Canadian military the tools it needs to get the job done. Soldier for soldier, sailor for sailor, airman for airman, the Canadian Armed Forces are once again the best in the world.

No longer does Canada have to hitch a ride with our allies. Our serving men and women can now carry out their vital missions. The Royal Canadian Air Force is flying new heavy-lift C-17 and C-130J transport aircraft, and operating Chinook helicopters. New tanks, artillery and other equipment have proven their worth in combat. Canadian workers at Canadian shipyards will build new ships for the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard. And our Government will complete our plan to replace Canada's fleet of fighter jets.

Building on these successes, our Government will renew our Canada First Defence Strategy. Now and in the future, Canada's Armed Forces will defend Canada and protect our borders; maintain sovereignty over our Northern lands and waters; fight alongside our allies to defend our interests; and respond to emergencies within Canada and around the world.

To be effective, our military must have more teeth and less tail. Our Government will:

As our Government takes these steps, it will always keep faith with those who have defended Canada with pride. Our veterans have stood up for us; we will stand by them. Our Government has made unprecedented investments to support our veterans.

Our Government has:

Our Government has worked to help returning veterans re-establish themselves. We will:

Canada's Northern Sovereignty

We are a northern country. We are a northern people. Canada's greatest dreams are to be found in our highest latitudes. They are the dreams of a North confident and prosperous, the True North, strong and free.

Our Government is securing our Northern sovereignty; promoting prosperity for Northerners; protecting our Arctic environmental heritage; and giving the people of the North a greater say in their own affairs.

Our Government has made great strides by:

But the eyes of the world increasingly look enviously to our North. Our Government will not rest.

Promoting Canadian Values

Canada stands for what is right and good in the world. This is the true character of Canadians - honourable in our dealings, faithful to our commitments, loyal to our friends. Confident partners, courageous warriors and compassionate neighbours.

Canada does not go along to get along. Our Government defends Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, the lone outpost of freedom and democracy in a dangerous region. And our Government stands opposed to those regimes that threaten their neighbours, slaughter their citizens, and imperil freedom. These regimes must ultimately be judged not by their words, but by their actions.

Canada seeks a world where freedom - including freedom of religion, the rule of law, democracy and human dignity are respected. Our Government will continue to promote these fundamental values around the world, including through the newly established Office of Religious Freedom.

And Canadians know that freedom and prosperity march together.

Canadians also know that free and healthy societies require the full participation of women. Canada has taken a leadership role in addressing the health challenges facing women, infants and children in the world's poorest countries. These efforts are saving millions of lives.

It is the reality of our country that Canadians of very different origins live and work side by side, together. New Canadians work hard to learn our languages, our values, and our traditions, and in turn, are welcomed as equal members of the Canadian family. Our Government inherited a broken immigration system, and has worked hard to fix it.

Our Government has:

But there is still more our Government can and will do.

Canadians understand that citizenship should not be simply a passport of convenience. Citizenship is a pledge of mutual responsibility and a shared commitment to values rooted in our history.

2017: Anniversary of Confederation

As we look confidently to the future, we draw great strength from our past. Beginning with our Aboriginal peoples, Canada's story is one of risk, sacrifice, and rugged determination. From the founding of New France, to the fight for Canada in the War of 1812; from the visionary achievement of Confederation, to our victory at Vimy Ridge, Canadians have repeatedly triumphed over long odds to forge a great country, united and free.

It is a story we recall with wonder and recount with pride. A story of how different provinces founded a federation in which our distinct strengths advance our unity. A federation in which Canada's two national languages position us uniquely in the world; where francophones thrive and celebrate a unique culture, in solidarity with fellow Canadians.

Our Government has recognized the Québécois as a nation within a united Canada. It will work with the Government of Québec to ensure our common prosperity. And our Government will continue to respect the division of jurisdiction at the heart of the Constitution adopted at Confederation.

Canada's Confederation is worth celebrating. As we approach our historic 150th anniversary in 2017, our Government will join with Canadians in honouring this momentous milestone by:

The coming anniversary of Confederation is also a time to mark the contribution of Canada's First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, who have had a defining role in shaping our country.

The road to 2017 is a fitting time to strengthen our institutions and democratic processes.

Conclusion

Honourable Members of the Senate and Members of the Commons, as the dawn of our Confederation approached in the 1860s, our founding Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald said of Canada's future that he saw ''a great nation - great in thought, great in action, great in hope, and great in position.''

His vision has come to pass.

Today, Canada is a model for the world. Admired for our freedom. Respected for our principles. Envied for our openness, compassion and peaceful pluralism.

As we approach the 150th anniversary of our great land, we look to the future. A future we will face true to our character, the character of a determined and enterprising people: Canadians, whose shops and small businesses spur the growth of our towns and cities; who work factory shifts and drive taxicabs to help their families get ahead; who take the same pride in raising their children as they do in being citizens of the best country on earth.

These are the quiet, unsung Canadians who are building our country.

It is from them that we draw the inspiration to face an uncertain and unstable world.

It is for them that we will seize the moment before us.

Members of the House of Commons, you will be asked to appropriate the funds required to carry out the services and expenditures authorized by Parliament.

Honourable Senators and Members of the House of Commons, you are the holders of a profound trust reposed in you by Canadians.

May you be equal to that trust in all things and may Divine Providence guide you in your deliberations.