Trojan Horse budget does not allow parliament to do its job.

The budget implementation act, all 400 pages of it, is 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, the budget is bloated, omnibus and strays in too many directions.  New Democrats are demanding that the budget be divided into more manageable and appropriate pieces of legislation so that parliament can do its job properly.

The fact is, the budget changes so many federal laws and regulations it is impossible to say what the real effects of it will be if parliament is not allowed to fully scrutinize it.   What is certain is that, in its current form, the budget will only be studied by the Finance Committee.   Given that a full third of the legislation deals with items that are environmental in nature the problem of narrow scope and speedy oversight become easy to see.   By rushing the measures contained in the budget that have less  to do with federal spending than changing laws and regulations the Conservatives tip their hand –they do not want parliament to do its job or Canadians to pay attention.

Much of the budget basically sets the course for a Canada that is increasingly deregulated.  The work of many parliaments is being cast aside in order to rush natural resource exports on behalf of largely foreign-owned corporations.    The budget’s focus is so thoroughly one-sided that people who should be natural allies of this government’s are questioning the lack of balance.

A quick example:  Many changes to the Fisheries Act including the removal of the section that provides protection to fish habitat are 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 says the protection of fish habitat, which was implemented in the 1960s, was updated in the 1980s for good reasons.   Yet, for Harper Conservatives, the protection of fish habitat was a stumbling block for oil pipelines and tailing pools made out of drained lakes – so it’s gone.

The intent of the budget is obvious and one-sided.  The government knows that Canadians do not want their environment gutted for a quick buck today and would much rather have everybody look elsewhere while they try to get this over quickly.   But this isn’t an issue of minor importance, it is the shape of the country we will pass on to other generations and New Democrats cannot look away.