Ottawa — Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's recently elected Liberal administration pledged Monday to rebuild the country's federal system of government to forestall the regional tensions threatening Canada's future. The commitment came in the traditional policy-setting speech from the throne opening the 32nd Parliament. The speech, written by the prime minister but delivered by the governor-general, Edward Schreyer, warned that "in every part of Canada there are forces which are driving us apart," Monitor contributor David Milne reports.
The liberals pledged to fight disintegration through a "renewal" of the country's federal system of government, though details were not given.
The speech said that if residents of Quebec rejected independence in the forthcoming referendum in the French-speaking province, the federal government would interpret the vote as a call for "the rebuilding of the Canadian federation," not a vote for the status quo.
The government said it will pursue an active foreign policy, including a stronger role in NATO. The speech also announced that a Canadian disarmament ambassador will be working for arms control.
At home, the government said it would provide financial help for pensioners, ease the burden on homeowners and small businesses hit by high interest rates, and work to decrease foreign ownership of Canadian industry.