Saturday, October 06, 2007

Un discours du Trône en soirée/A Throne Speech in the evening


         From time to time articles appear in the French-language press that are not to be found in the English-language media.

        Such, insofar as googling is accurate, appears to be so with "Un discours du Trône en soirée" published
        in Le Devoir.

        The only English-language reference to it found is "The Not-Ready-for-Primetime Throne Speech" on an individual's
        blog "" .  This dissertation on the Le Devoir article ends with a question that, with the timing itself, will be
         interesting to watch for as the Second Session of the 39th Parliament begins.



 Ottawa -- The rumor circulated for weeks, but it is now confirmed: the Conservative government of Stephen Harper will unveil his much-awaited speech from the Throne ...According to what was told Le Devoir, a hitch in this tradition aims to use the media, especially the television networks, to the benefit of government: the event will be presented so late that the critics' s opposition might not be all reported in time for the news.

Three separate sources have confirmed yesterday Devoir that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has decided to present the Throne Speech to 19h, four to five hours later than it is normally. The decision was announced to the troops Monday evening.

"These are of prime time," said one strategist questioned about possible reasons for this choice. Instead of doing it in full afternoon when there is not a cat that looks, we did it to 20h, at the prime time in the evening, and everyone will watch live. After that, they closed the television, watching the news or listening to hockey."

On Tuesday, Oct. 16, the date chosen for the return of parliamentarians in Ottawa and the presentation of the famous speech, the Montreal Canadiens will face the Florida Panthers in a match broadcast from 19.30. The time of reading the speech will be well and truly at 19h according to our information, but the Prime Minister's Office has at most informed that some strategists MPs would take place "in the evening."

In a context of minority government, the reaction that will create the Throne Speech is equally, if not more important than the content itself. While the election fever has taken over in Ottawa, all eyes will be turned to the Bloc Quebecois and the Liberal Party, which must decide whether to oppose the proposed agenda ... and rush the country in election campaign. The NDP, which requires an immediate withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan appear in the speech, is almost assured to vote against.

Neutralize the opposition

According to our information, this is to ensure that government does the message drowned in the soup electoral speculation that the time of the speech was postponed so late in the evening. "Yes, this is probably the reason why they do so," says our source.

In comparison, the first (and only) speech presented by the troops of Stephen Harper, in April 2006, was at 15.15.  As is customary, the Governor General of Canada, Michaëlle Jean, who had read in the precincts of the Senate.  A check by Le Devoir until 1994, when the first speech delivered by the government of Jean Chretien, shows that ever Throne Speech was read later than 3:15 p.m.. It has sometimes been read earlier by Adrienne Clarkson, who then held the post of Head of State.

The organizational imperatives of the media are making the reactions of the opposition receive less coverage because of the chosen time.  Indeed, most of the television networks are preparing their first newsletter to 21h (like the CBC and its Anglophone, CBC).  Le Devoir not respect its first deadlines that narrowly.

Tradition has it that the opposition parties are given a few hours in advance, embargoed, a copy of the speech. The heads can prepare their responses just in time for the end of the ceremony. But nothing obliges the government to do so.

 Last November, for example, while the Bloc Quebecois trying to adopt a motion in the House of Commons recognizing the Quebec nation, the office of Stephen Harper had sent some time before the answer that the Prime Minister would make this request.  Everything was ...  Except the passage where Mr. Harper proposed his own formula to recognize the nation "within a united Canada."  This had led the Bloc Quebecois that the prime minister would be opposed to the request and to prepare his sling accordingly. The Bloc Quebecois had for a few days cafouillé on the answer to the offer conservative.

Vos réactions Feedback

Le roi Harper - par Roger Dion
Le jeudi 04 octobre 2007 12:00

Fairplay - par Daniel Beaudry
Le jeudi 04 octobre 2007 06:00

Anti-démocratique? - par Réjean Grenier (
Le mercredi 03 octobre 2007 11:00

Comme pour Tout le monde en parle - par Roland Berger (
Le mercredi 03 octobre 2007 09:00

la Tradition Brittannique... - par Emmy Grand-Maison
Le mercredi 03 octobre 2007 08:00

Tout le monde à l'écoute ? - par Gilles Bousquet
Le mercredi 03 octobre 2007 07:00


A tradition exists in Ottawa where the opposition party leaders are given a copy of the speech from the throne a few hours ahead of it being read - under embargo, of course. This allows them to prepare their reactions so that they can deliver them immediately after the speech is read. The key word here is this is a tradition. The government is in no way obliged to provide the opposition leaders with an advance copy of the speech. If they don't have an advance copy, they will have a more difficult time putting together a comprehensive rebuttal to deliver to the press as soon as the speech is over.

Would Harper stoop that low? That I don't know. However, I wouldn't be surprised if he's at least considering it.