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2013 throne speech promises balanced budgets, cyber-bullying law

Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario. - Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario.
— image credit: Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Canada's Conservative Party has promised a law that will force future federal governments to have balanced budgets during "normal economic times," according to the 2013 throne speech read by Gov. Gen. David Johnston on Wednesday in Ottawa.

The new law will "freeze (the government's) operating budget and reform the way the government manages spending," reports the CBC. Also, the feds promised a debt-to-GDP ratio of 25 per cent by 2021.

"Canadians work hard for their money. And we know families are better placed to make spending decisions than governments," Johnston said.

"Canadian families work hard to make ends meet, and every dollar counts. While companies will look out for their bottom line, our Government is looking out for everyday Canadians."

Also presented in the throne speech:

  • An amendment that will allow Canadians to bring beer and spirits across provincial borders for personal use, which is currently not allowed (except for, in some cases, wine).
  • The government says it will not use the "guise of treatment" to feed addiction, a not-so-veiled shot at programs or initiatives like Vancouver's In-Site clinic. Also, in possible opposition to opinions expressed by Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, who has argued for marijuana legalization.
  • $70 billion for infrastructure and city funding, specifically for Toronto's TTC underground and Montreal's Champlain Bridge.
  • A new cyber-bullying law that will outlaw the non-consensual sharing or distribution of intimate photos (more from the Canadian Press/Calgary Herald), and will ensure a "life sentence means a sentence for life."
  • Promises to reduce wireless roaming costs and unbundle television channels.
  • A pending trade deal with the European Union.
  • The government promised to tackle the sometimes head-scratching price gap between consumer goods in the United States and Canada, which the throne speech called a "geographic price discrimination against Canadians."
  • Ottawa will give honorary Canadian citizenship to 2013 Nobel Peace Prize nominee and Pakistani teen Malala Yousafzai. Yousafzai has become well-known as an advocate for girls' education and as a victim of a 2012 Taliban attack, when she was on her school bus. She will become Canada's sixth honorary citizen, following others such as Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama.

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*VIDEOS: Highlights from the Throne Speech, followed by comments from federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair...

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