World Bulletin / News Desk
Canada's Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outlined Friday his priorities for the upcoming parliamentary session, including lifting indigenous communities out of poverty, cutting carbon emissions and legalizing marijuana.
The government's legislative agenda was presented in a throne speech delivered in the Senate by Governor General David Johnston.
The Liberals laid out a more streamlined agenda than most of Trudeau's predecessors for their first year in office, but the proposals are likely to have a deeper and farther reaching impact.
They include plans to rewrite the nation's environmental assessment regulations, which the previous Tory administration had gutted; restricting ownership of or banning handguns and assault weapons; replacing Canada's "first-past-the-post" voting system before the next election; and becoming the first G7 nation to legalize marijuana.
Under Canada's current system, a candidate that wins a plurality -- not necessarily a majority -- of votes can be elected to the House of Commons.
An estimated one million out of Canada's 35 million people regularly smoke marijuana, according to 2014 surveys.
Trudeau himself raised eyebrows by admitting to having smoked pot at a dinner party with friends since being elected to parliament in 2008.
He has also said that his late brother Michel was facing marijuana possession charges for a "tiny amount" of pot before his death in an avalanche in 1998.Trudeau has said that this influenced his decision to propose legalizing and regulating cannabis.
Missing and murdered aboriginals
The ceremony kicking off the 42nd parliament included a military march and a performance by native singer and drummer David Charette of the Wikwemikong First Nation.
Trudeau and his wife were present glad-handing with groups of Syrian refugees, students and recent immigrants.
The prime minister, just back from a whirlwind international tour taking selfies with fans and dining with Queen Elizabeth II, renewed his pledge for Canada to accept more than 25,000 Syrian refugees, and to work with the country's allies "in the fight against terrorism."
He also said the Liberals would launch an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and boost funding for native education.
According to federal police, 1,181 aboriginal women have been murdered or gone missing since 1952. Aboriginal groups say that the high homicide rate that plagues many indigenous communities is rooted in poverty, discrimination and poor education.
Ottawa will also negotiate a target for reducing carbon emissions with Canada's provinces, which will include putting a price on carbon emissions in order to encourage energy conservation and discourage polluting.
The provinces of Quebec and Ontario already have schemes capping the amount of carbon dioxide gas emitted by each industry, and allowing firms to buy and sell unused emissions quotas under an imposed ceiling. British Columbia has imposed a carbon tax.
But first up next week, the Liberals said they would implement a tax cut on middle income earners promised during the election campaign. Canada's economy continues to sputter, with growth expected to remain weak through 2016.
The government also revealed in the throne speech that it aims to build a leaner, more agile, better-equipped military, and to refocus its international aid -- for the second time in a decade.
Last Mod: 05 Aralık 2015, 22:14