Stephen Harper’s Bill C-38 continues to generate controversy and opposition across Canada. In Winnipeg, a group of citizens have joined Lead Now’s “13 Heroes” campaign that is aimed at convincing enough Conservative MPs across the country to force the Prime Minister to back down on his budget implementation bill. The focus in Winnipeg is on Conservative MP Joyce Bateman (Winnipeg South Centre).
C-38 is an omnibus bill that combines budgetary spending and cuts with amendments to over 70 pieces of existing legislation. Among the bill’s lowlights, it
- repeals the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and introduces a weaker version
- kills Canadian world-class science research centres, closing or selling the Experimental Lakes Area, The Cereal Research Centre at the University of Manitoba, marine & climate-monitoring programs
- removes protection of endangered species and their habitat, when approving pipeline projects, by amending the Species at Risk Act and the Navigable Waters Protection Act
- guts the Fisheries Act by removing provisions for habitat protection
- repeals the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act
- eliminates the National Round Table on Environment and Economy
- repeals the Fair Wages Act
- reforms Old Age Security by raising the age of eligibility for the program
- forces EI users to accept work that does not correspond to their training or customary salary
While Canadians and their MPs should debate the merits of these various measures, Harper will not allow this to happen. Because they have been stuffed into one Bill, these proposals will not get the individual attention they deserve. As you read this, the package is being rushed through one Parliamentary Committee — the Finance Committee. The Finance Committee is neither mandated nor equipped to assess the impacts of these wide-ranging amendments. Once again, Harper is showing his contempt for Canadians, for Parliament and for democracy itself.
Parliament may vote on Bill C-38 as soon as June 14th. The Opposition Parties are lined up to oppose the Bill, but with his majority, Harper will prevail unless we can convince some of his backbenchers to stop acting like sheep and listen to their constituents. Thirteen, to be precise. If thirteen Conservative MPs choose democracy, Harper can choose to back down or face an election.
On June 13, expect rallies outside of Conservative MPs offices. You can find out about the one nearest you here. If you live in Winnipeg, two events are planned:
Information picket in front of Joyce Bateman’s office (611 Corydon Avenue) from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Show up at three and you can help make picket signs.
Bill C-38 Dialogue Event, The University of Winnipeg, Room 2M70 (515 Portage Ave), from 7:00 to 9:00 pm
If you can’t make it, or abhor crowds, you can still remind Joyce Bateman that she has a choice. Contact her at
House of Commons
102-611 Corydon Avenue
Finally, here’s a bit of video I recorded Saturday at Joyce Bateman’s office. But first, go to the kitchen and assemble your favorite noisemakers. Then play the video and chant:
“JOYCE HAS A CHOICE! LET HER HEAR YOUR VOICE!”