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PM fails to inspire with final pledge list
Throne speeches are notoriously vague and insubstantial. Even at their best, they serve only as broad indicators of the direction a government wants to take. Yesterday's speech, delivered by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, is made even more nebulous by the fact that its architect is less than a year and a half away from retirement.

Jean Chretien's visionary legacy depends not only on having enough money in a depleted treasury to pay for new programs, but also on the will of his successor to see Chretien's agenda implemented. Given that his most likely replacement is Paul Martin, and that Martin is no fan of the prime minister, and less than fond of the sort of traditional Liberal largesse he advocates, that seems unlikely.

Still, even in these uncertain circumstances, there were some notable initiatives outlined in the speech.

Most importantly, the government has pledged it will come up with a new plan and appropriate funding to reform the nation's struggling health-care system. This is significant, because until now, when criticized for having reduced the federal government's share of the health-care pie, Chretien and his allies have defended themselves, saying they have already made new health spending commitments. The truth is that, in its enthusiasm for taming the deficit in the '90s, Ottawa reduced its share of health spending from 18 cents to 14 cents of every health-care dollar. Source.

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October 1, 2002