Throne speech suggests spending on engineering
In his reply to the Speech from the Throne Prime Minister Jean Chretien suggested that the message has got through...
In his reply to the Speech from the Throne Prime Minister Jean Chretien suggested that the message has got through to him about Canada’s need to repair and build its road and water infrastructure. The messages in both Governor General Adrienne Clarkson’s speech given September 30 to open the 37th Parliament and Chretien’s reply a day later were vague, but there were clear signals that there will be spending on infrastructure and engineering works.
About a third of the way through his speech, Chretien explained how he had come to see the importance of long-term planning in this sector:
“Mr. Speaker, there is one other area where investments by government must be planned for the longer term: that is infrastructure. A modern infrastructure is key to our economic and environmental objectives. It is simply impossible, for example, to build a road or transit system in the period of time for which governments normally budget. Every single provincial premier has urged me to make our infrastructure spending a long term program. So that they can plan their capital spending. So that they can work with mayors on their urban planning. So that we can all do our environmental planning.
“Our Caucus has been equally forceful on this issue. They have convinced our Cabinet. And they have convinced me.
“A comprehensive urban strategy for the 21st century requires everything from roads and transit, to affordable housing, to the information highway. We will establish a long term, strategic infrastructure plan in time for the next budget. This will help us meet our social, economic and environmental objectives and also help us address the challenge of climate change.”
Chretien also indicated that the government is intent on fulfilling the requirements of the Kyoto Accord and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions drastically by 2012. To do that he said they will be investing in alternative technologies. (To take advantage of that approach, consulting engineers should be apprising themselves of new renewable power generating technologies such as wind power, photovoltaics, etc.)
On the environmental front, Chretien and Clarkson indicated that the government will intensify their efforts in the area of water supply and air emissions. The Governor General’s speech elaborated on this issue in the most detail, as follows:
“Canada is blessed by the beauty of its vast landscape and the wealth of its natural resources. But with this blessing comes the responsibility to ensure its preservation. A healthy environment is an essential part of a sustainable economy and our quality of life.
The Government’s focus will be on the three priorities of clean air, clean water, and the conservation of Canada’s natural spaces.
Last December, the Government of Canada signed an agreement with the United States to significantly reduce the emissions that cause smog. This agreement will lead to a 90 percent reduction in smog-causing vehicle emissions by 2010, bringing cleaner air to millions of citizens in both countries. The Government will move quickly to implement this agreement and other measures, working with the provinces and territories to achieve cleaner air.
It is Canada’s responsibility, as steward of one of the world’s largest supplies of fresh water, to protect this critical resource. Safeguarding our water is a shared task among governments, industry and individual Canadians. The Government of Canada will fulfil its direct responsibilities for water, including the safety of water supplies on reserves and federal lands.”
The Government will also lead in developing stronger national guidelines for water quality by enhancing scientific research and continuing its collaboration with partners. Drawing on expertise within the Government and from across Canada, it will significantly strengthen the role of the National Water Research Institute.
It will fund improvements to municipal water and waste water systems through the federal-provincial-municipal Infrastructure Canada program.
It will also invest in research and development and advanced information systems to enable better land use and protect surface and ground water supplies from the impact of industrial and agricultural operations.
Canadians are the guardians of a significant percentage of the world’s wilderness and wildlife. The Government will invest in the creation of new national parks and implement a plan to restore existing parks to ecological health. It will work with its partners toward more integrated, sustainable management of Canada’s oceans. And it will re-introduce legislation for marine conservation areas and to protect species at risk.
To safeguard Canadians from toxic substances and environmental contaminants, the Government will also strengthen laws, research efforts and other measures for health protection. This will include the development of appropriate standards that reflect the special vulnerabilities of children.”