By John Geddes
OTTAWA-Liberal strategists say the party plans to make government integrity and economic growth its key themes as it prepares the new session of Parliament in mid-January.
Prime Minister Jean Chrétien is scheduled to start the new year with a series of meetings in Europe. But his real work begins when he returns home to put the finishing touches on his government's first speech from the throne.
The Jan. 18 speech, which will outline the government's legislative plan of action, will draw heavily on the Liberal election platform. As many as a dozen specific initiatives will be drawn directly from the 111-page campaign document known as the Red Book, one government official said.
Key measures are expected to signal new attention to political integrity--such as scaling down MP's pension benefits and appointing an "ethics counsellor" to monitor government lobbying.
Chrétien has said he views reducing public cynicism about Ottawa as crucial to the success of Liberal programs. And both the Opposition Bloc Québécois and the Reform party have served notice they plan to make honesty and frugality in government key thrusts in their daily criticism of the government.
Specific action on the economic front will not come until Finance Minister Paul Martin delivers his first budget in February. However, the broad thrust of economic policy will be outlined in the throne speech, officials say.
As well, a spokesman in the Prime Minister's Office said Chrétien is planning to make a major economic speech in Toronto in late January, putting his personal stamp on the pre-budget consultation process Martin will oversee.
As a prelude to the busy domestic agenda, Chrétien is scheduled to travel to London, Paris and Brussels from Jan. 5-12 for meetings with heads of government.
But the centerpiece of the trip is a two-day summit of NATO leaders--aimed at carving out a post-Cold War role for the alliance. Since the meeting is President Bill Clinton's debut on the European diplomatic stage, Chrétien is expected to be overshadowed.
When he returns home, Chrétien will be sharing the spotlight with several key cabinet ministers. Martin is slated to attend four pre-budget conferences through January, organized by independent policy think-tanks.
And Ottawa insiders will be watching three other new cabinet ministers with particular interest early in 1994:
(text of January 1-3, 1994 Financial Post front-page headline article)
*-TO SEE WHAT BECAME OF MR. AXWORTHY IN 1999, TAKE A BRIEF SIDESTEP HERE.
THAT HAVING BEEN CLARIFIED, LET'S SEE HOW TALK ABOUT INTEGRITY WAS
TRANSLATED INTO ACTION BY THIS BUNCH.
TO SEE ONE EXAMPLE OF THIS, TAKE A BRIEF SIDESTEP HERE.
THEN, TO SEE A SECOND EXAMPLE OF THIS--EMERGING IN 1999 AS THE SAME DAY'S NATIONAL POST FRONT-PAGE REPORT NOTES CHRÉTIEN IS THINKING AHEAD TO THE YEAR 2000 AND THE PENDING QUEBEC INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM, ONE AND ALL ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO TAKE YOUR NEXT FOOTSTEP[S] HERE.