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GOING, GOING, GONE: Sold to the Conservatives
The budget implementation act (Bill C-38), all 400 pages of it, was the latest in a long string of legislative initiatives to have debate limited by time allocation. Like too many other bills that parliament has been forced to fast-track, C-38 was bloated, omnibus and strayed in too many directions. New Democrats demanded that the act be divided into more manageable and appropriate pieces of legislation so that parliament could do its job properly.
The fact is, this legislation changes so many federal laws and regulations it is impossible to say what the real effects to our country will be. What has now become obvious to many Canadians is that this bill was only studied by the Finance Committee. By having rushed the measures contained in the budget which have less to do with federal spending than changing laws and regulations, the Conservatives have made it very clear that they did not want parliament to do its job or Canadians to pay attention.
Much of the budget has set the course for a Canada that is increasingly deregulated. The work of many parliaments was cast aside in order to rush natural resource exports on behalf of largely foreign-owned corporations. The budget’s focus was so thoroughly one-sided that people who should be natural allies of this government’s were questioning its lack of balance.
For example, many changes to the Fisheries Act including the removal of the section that provides protection to fish habitat were nothing but contentious. Former federal Minister of Fisheries, Tom Siddon, a Conservative himself, has been an outspoken critic of the measures that gut the act. He has stated that the protection of fish habitat implemented in the 1960s, was updated in the 1980s for good reasons. Yet, for this government, the protection of fish habitat was a stumbling block for oil pipelines and tailing pools made out of drained lakes.
The intent of Bill C-38 is obvious and one-sided. Even though the Conservatives knew that the majority of Canadians did not want the environment gutted for a quick buck today, they nevertheless included changes to a wide variety of legislation such as the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Energy Board Act.
The changes brought about by Bill C-38 will be felt by generations to come. Once again, our government has sold out the interests of Canadians to the corporate sector.
I am proud to say that the Opposition parties united to oppose the Conservative Trojan Horse Bill and helped raise awareness of this blatant attack on parliament and democracy in our country.
Was there really any other choice?
Alex Atamanenko is the MP for BC Southern Interior.