It is hard to too excited about the Speech from the Throne; it is theatre, the government’s best face, and it seldom resembles the legislative and budgetary priorities the government eventually puts forward. But they do mean something. It is therefore notable, as David Quist of the Institute ofMarriage and Family Canada points out, that the speech referenced family and families 20 times; according to a word cloud in the National Post, it was one of the 15 most used words in the whole speech. According to Quist, the throne speech opens the door to income splitting by assisting sole-support, single-families. It also reinforces the notion that parents, not governments know best, and that the feds will support and defer to local and non-governmental solutions, including through faith groups. I hope so; the budget, to be presented in the House of Commons by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty this afternoon, should put some flesh on these bones.
The government seems to be saying the right things, hitting buzzwords like family that will excite socially conservative Canadian voters. I’m not sure if it is enough, but it is rhetoric that moves the political debate and thus the country in the right direction. More important politically, the Conservative view of how society should be ordered is at distinct odds with the centralized, government-centered vision of the opposition Liberals, NDP, Green and Bloc Quebecois. The latter is never good for families. It might be said the the Tories are Canada’s Most Conservative Party, not really the Conservative Party, but for now that is nothing to sneeze at.