Canadians are getting thrown under the Omnibus
June 4th, 2010 - 4:00am
The Harper Conservatives seem to be doing everything in their power to put the brakes on debates against their agenda as of late; the prorogation to avoid inquiries into the Afghan detainee issue; removal of a cabinet minister, the basis of which was hidden behind claims that it could interfere with an RCMP investigation; rejecting questioning as to where the over $1 billion in security spending for the G8 and G20 summits went. These issues, as important as they all are, may begin to look like small potatoes compared to the government`s budget implementation bill.
C-9, the omnibus bill that will see a the implementation of this government`s right-wing agenda, is a 904-page behemoth that features 23 separate sections with 2,208 individual clauses. Omnibus bills have come upon the House of Commons before, but never have they been this overblown.
C-9 is loaded with amendments that have very little to do with the implementation of the budget, but have everything to do with pushing their agenda forward with as little debate as possible. The bill features amendments such as Part 15, which would set the wheels in motion to privatize Canada Post. I have often been vocal about issues concerning mail services to rural areas. The residents of Constance Lake have had to travel 80 kilometres to send mail since November, 2008, when their local postal service shut its doors. If we see the privatization of Canada Post, you can bet that many more postal services in small, rural communities will close their doors.
The bill is throwing environmental assessment out the window. Part 20 gives the Minister of Environment the authority to forego environmental assessment for federally-funded infrastructure projects. This could mean that, for example, permits for offshore drilling operations could be stripped of the need to drill relief wells, the same type of system that could have prevented much of the oil that has spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.
C-9 could facilitate the sell-off of some, or potentially all, of Atomic Energy Canada Ltd. With the cost of energy skyrocketing, and the potential for layoffs coming high and fast if a sell-off were to occur, this sort of legislation is working for the benefit of a handful of corporate executives who care little for the needs of the Canadian people. It would appear that this Conservative government has learned very little from (or cares little about) the sell-off of Inco to Vale, or of Falconbridge to Xstrata, and the damage these types of sell-offs cause to hard working Canadians.
These ‘budgetary measures’ are just a taste of the inherently single-minded vision that Harper has for Canada. To allow this sort of overblown legislation, reminiscent of American-style pork and earmark bills, to pass would be a massive blow to Canada’s parliamentary democracy. To vote on a budget is one thing...to vote on a bill that is loaded with items that have little to do with the federal budget is another animal entirely. I will not be supporting this bill, and I sincerely hope my colleagues in the House of Commons feel the same way.