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Were there any surprises in the speech from the throne? An expert weighs in

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The NDP government unveiled its first speech from the throne on Tuesday, reiterating many of the same promises made over the last few months.

The speech included pledges to cut health-care wait times, add Holocaust education to schools, and pause the gas tax. Premier Wab Kinew also said for the province to follow through on these promises and balance the budget in the first term, there’s going to be some belt-tightening within departments.

Probe Research’s Curtis Brown said there weren’t many surprises from Tuesday’s throne speech, adding that it’s typically the government’s “vision statement.” He added that the speech from the throne echoed what was pledged during the NDP’s campaign, including a focus on health-care.

“The details are really going to come in the bills that are introduced in session in the next couple weeks and in the budget in the spring,” he said on CTV Morning Live on Tuesday.

“But a lot of this really did capture what the NDP were talking about during the campaign.”

One thing that did catch Brown’s attention was the emphasis on creating deeper relationships with Indigenous people and governments. This includes pledges to make Orange Shirt Day a statutory holiday and to designate Louis Riel as Manitoba’s first premier.

“In terms of resetting the relationship and also acknowledging the importance of Indigenous peoples in Manitoba and the historic role of Louis Riel that’s something that I think has been a long time coming,” Brown said.

Brown said he’s not surprised that Kinew said the province would need to cut back spending, and that the deficit is higher than the former government had indicated.

“The last budget, the Progressive Conservatives really did increase a lot of spending. There were a lot of promises made in that budget ramping up and leading up to an election,” he said.

“So I don’t think it’s surprising that [Kinew] said that.”

Brown added that it will be expensive for the government to pause the gas tax, and wonders if the premier’s statement on cutting back will be used as a cover to not fulfill certain promises.

“I do wonder if coming out and saying that now gives the NDP some wiggle room down the road in case they say, “Yeah, you know what? We can’t do this or we can’t do that,” he said.

More information about Tuesday’s speech from the throne can be found online. 

- With files from CTV Rachel’s Lagace and Jeff Keele.

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