Last May, when the Harper majority was elected, I was thinking that changes will happen so drastically that will change Canada as we know it, by the time there is another election. Little did I know it wasn’t even gonna take that long for this to happen.
Just a little over a year later, Parliament is faced by a budget bill, dubbed as the “Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act“, and affecting 70 existing pieces of legislation that is about to pass and there is not much anyone could do about it, realistically.
This is a bill that will increase the age of retirement, force people to commute and accept lower paying jobs instead of taking the proper time to find a job while on Employment Insurance (EI), cut funding for jobs and health care, attack workers, change immigration and refugee policies, not to mention the undemocratic process in which it is presented.
This bill’s worst hit, though, comes on the environment. If passed, Bill C-38 would give ministers the option to decide if federal projects should undergo an environmental assessment, and even when they do, the environmental review process is speed up, public consultations are limited. It leaves a shadow of the 34 years old legislation on a rotten piece of paper with little power, as natural resource exploitation turns Canada’s forests into Mordor and its lakes into toxic tailing ponds right in front of our eyes.
Nineteen other pieces of environmental legislation are affected by the bill and impact everything ranging from fisheries and oceans, to nuclear safety, to climate change, to environmental groups, etc.
This 490 pages bill did not get enough time for debate and it was really up to the opposition members to dig out its many flaws. The Conservatives limited the number of days to debate it and after the opposition introduced 871 amendments, they got them all grouped together into a maximum of 159 votes and limited the total hours of debate. Bottom line, amendments are scheduled to be voted on (and down) today, and the bill is expected to pass on Monday.
Those are the facts, and well there isn’t much anyone can do to change that.
Today, I woke up and I thought that I am basically doing all that I can do. I am technically part of a country wide day of actions that will see rallies across the country protesting the bill and showing support to Conservative (and opposition) MPs who don’t think this bill should pass. Talking to participants in those actions, knowing some of them are Conservative voters, and seeing the level of dedication and excitement, is rather inspiring. Working with the Leadnow.ca team on the Blackmark and 13 Heroes campaigns for the last few weeks have certainly been inspiring. I’ve even joked that it has brought out the “lost optimist” in me, something that my proud pessimist self rarely allows me to do.
I guess it is nice to do all that work and think that it could possibly have an impact, at the very least group work and group support helps to keep us going.
Is it enough? Oh of course not!
I mean in this case, anything short of scrapping this bill is not enough in my opinion. However, in the reality where this just isn’t an option, there is something positive to said about mobilizing such large numbers of people. The resistance this budget has drawn so far is unprecedented and I guess it’s not too unrealistic to imagine that it might actually lead to a broader movement. I am cautiously optimistic (oops I said it again) and I can only hope that the unprecedented damage to Canadian caused by this bill will be faced by an unprecedented opposition.
Tonight and probably over the next few days, I will be in parliament watching as amendments are voted down one after the other, knowing I cannot do anything about it, not even tweet. Yet, I still feel hope and I guess as far as I am concerned, the budget hasn’t passed yet and today is gonna rock, and if you’re reading this you should participate.
Monday will most likely be a sad day for Canada, and I’ll have caught up to reality by then. But between now and then, I am gonna take a moment to celebrate a small success that brought such diverse audience together and hope to build further on this success.