Last evening Jeff Jedras was good enough to organize a call between LPC poohbahs, ably represented in this case by MP Dominic Leblanc, and a number of Lib friendly bloggers. The idea was to discuss the state of the game on the eve of today's throne speech. This is my take on that call.
First, as to the measures that have been leaked to the media (cable channels à la carte, closing the price gap between U.S. and Canadian retail goods), these show that the Harper government has been picking up the same signals from Canadians over the summer as their Liberal counterparts: many feel we are still in recession, and are particularly aggrieved by the "nickle and diming" they face from the corporate world (credit card companies gouging small businesses being another example Mr. Leblanc noted). Not having any ideas to deal with the larger economic problems faced by the country, the CPC will be content to play some populist small ball with these issues in the new session.
As to their position re the measures that might eventually come forward, the LPC will adopt a wait-and-see attitude. Some of the stuff leaked so far does not sound practically doable, and some of it will pit the CPC against their usual small business allies, so in the end we might see insubstantial "consumer friendly" gestures--appointing panels and the like. In that case, the party is not likely to play along. Should something workable come forward, then there may be opportunities for cooperation between the LPC and the government.
As an aside, I think one short-coming of the Libs "no policy" approach has now become apparent. While the government has stolen many themes that Justin Trudeau spent the summer articulating, they will be able to put flesh to them in a away the LPC cannot, at least not until February's policy convention. It would have been useful to have a few concrete counter-proposals on hand at the start of the new session.
Finally, as of this morning (it may change) there will not be a debate over the throne speech itself. The practical effect of this will be disproportionately stop CPC back-benchers from speaking. The Conservative government tendency to not trust its own foot-soldiers with their own mouths seems alive and well.