Lt.-Gov. David Onley and New Premier Kathleen Wynne leave the Legislature at Queen's Park in Toronto on Tuesday Feb. 19, 2013.
Credits: Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency
It wasn't tough to pick out the big problems with Premier Kathleen Wynne's first throne speech.
The first hint came in the second paragraph read, as is the tradition, by Lt.-Gov David Onley on behalf of the government.
"I would like to acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit," Onley said.
That's so foolish.
Trendy though it may be to pretend that this land belongs to our First Nations and the rest of us are mere squatters, the fact is that the legislature belongs to all of us -- not to one small group.
At a time when First Nations groups are blockading rail lines, shutting down mines and when they've taken over a housing estate under construction in Caledonia, terrorizing local residents in the process, sending a message that the provincial parliament belongs not to the people of this province but to one obscure First Nation is just plain dumb, dumb, dumb.
The second problem was buried deeper into the speech.
We need an investment in infrastructure, so we don't have to sit in gridlocked traffic, the speech said. But we're going to have to pay.
"If we continue to argue about the tools this investment will require, then we are deaf to the symphony of progress that echoes around us," said Onley.
So expect taxes to pay for transit.
You know, if I thought that money would be spent wisely, I'd happily pay. But that's not been the track record of late. The Liberals squandered billions on a useless subway line to Vaughan -- when no one was calling for a subway to that wealthy Toronto suburb.
This throne speech is clearly aimed at appeasing Andrea Horwath and the NDP. In a minority situation, Wynne needs one of the parties to support her if she's going to get a budget passed -- and this speech shows she's shifting left.
That makes life easier for PC Leader Tim Hudak.
He had problems defining himself in the last election. Now the right wing of the political spectrum is all his.
"I just think the approach that says a little bit of PC a little bit of NDP and a whole lot of Dalton McGuinty isn't going to get us out of this mess," said Hudak.
Certainly, judging by the prime VIP seats the public sector union leaders had for the speech, the Wynne government will be rethinking the McGuinty government's hard line on public sector salaries.
Any throne speech talks in broad strokes. It doesn't provide the nitty gritty of how the government will meet its objectives.
That will come in the budget.
That will be Wynne's first major test.
Last year, the NDP played games, the Liberals played games and the Tories said, "Thanks but no," and had no part of it.
No party wants to be seen to precipitate an early election.
At the same time, neither Hudak nor Horwath wants to be seen propping up a government that is still facing the Ornge air ambulance scandal and the fallout from the gas plant cancellation.
The speech made constant reference to the "new government." It was reminiscent of Stephen Harper's rebranding of his government, when he and his ministers kept referring to "Canada's new government."
At least Harper was a new government and not just a new face on the same old, tired cast of characters.
It's going to take a lot more than meaningless platitudes about working together and cheery messages about "reaching out" to convince voters that this isn't the same old McGuinty government with a few new faces at the helm.