About two dozen people held a protest outside MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay’s Ladner constituency office last Saturday to raise awareness about the federal government’s omnibus budget bill.
They were among thousands across the country protesting Bill C-38.
Critics say the Conservative government is determined to push through the bill with the minimum of input from Parliament.
The wide-sweeping bill makes changes to more than 70 laws, ranging from Old Age Security to Employment Insurance to immigration. The bill also includes new crime legislation.
Findlay, who spoke briefly to the protestors while in her vehicle, is parliamentary secretary for the minister of justice and attorney general. She has been involved in hearing submissions on that legislation, noting it’s to make streets, families and communities safer by taking a tougher stance on child sexual offenders, cracking down on drug trafficking and improving the overall efficiency of the judicial system.
The omnibus bill would also significantly change the environmental review process, something that prompted four former federal fisheries ministers to pen a letter critical of the regulatory changes.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and other ministers on the weekend spoke in favour of the legislation, but critics contend it’s simply geared to speed up such developments as the Enbridge pipeline through northern B.C.
It’s not clear what the environmental review changes will mean when it comes to the proposed Terminal 2 container port and related projects at Roberts Bank, but local resident Kevin Garvey, who took part in Saturday’s Ladner protest, believes those projects will now be rammed through without proper oversight.
Noting people from a broad range of concerns and interests took part in Saturday’s rally, Garvey said it’s disappointing B.C. Conservative MPs are not raising concerns.
“We’ve got 21 MPs here that are Conservative and I think they could have an impact with all the water we’ve got here, the foreshore, the Fraser River, the ocean. All of these environmental laws are going to directly affect us in a very negative way,” he said.
Saying he voted Conservative in the last election, Garvey said there’s no doubt South Delta will be hard hit by gutted environmental protection laws.
“I had the opportunity to ask her (Findlay) if she would vote against the bill and she said she wouldn’t, she’d be voting with the government. I tried to outline all the concerns we have in Delta, particularly with the fast tracking of the Environmental Protection Act and giving ministers the ability to fast track projects.
“In Delta, I’m concerned about these rail projects and the second (port) terminal. I have no doubt those will come into play... this is where it starts. The feds make the laws that allow all this stuff to happen,” he said.
Saying Prime Minister Stephen Harper is refusing to split up the budget bill, opponents believe if it passes unchanged, it will put a black mark on Canadian democracy.
“We are looking for 13 ‘hero’ Conservative MPs who will work together to stop the budget, split it apart, and start over by inviting Canadians to help them craft laws that will work better for all of us,” said Jamie Biggar, executive director of Leadnow.ca.