Conservative kitchen-sink bill abuses Canada’s democracy

Federal Liberal critic says omnibus budget strips democracy

To the editor:

The Conservatives rammed through the House of Commons an omnibus budget bill that is sweeping in scope, deeply flawed in content, and anti-democratic in principle.

The (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper government has eliminated independent bodies, such as the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, which offers advice the Tories may disagree with. By gutting 50 years of environmental protections, the government has given itself the unilateral power to green-light major and potentially harmful resource-development projects without adequate scrutiny.

Bill C-38 makes changes to the Fisheries Act that could endanger many fish populations, including the migratory salmon, a timeless presence on the Canadian landscape, not to mention a staple of the economy.

Against the advice of many experts, the government will be raising the qualifying age from 65 to 67 for Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement, beginning in 2023, thus robbing vulnerable senior citizens of up to $30,000 in much needed income.

As if targeting seniors isn’t enough, the new changes in Employment Insurance will impact those who work in seasonal employment and the government did not even bother to consult employers or the provinces, which will be most impacted.

In addition to criticizing specific measures in this budget bill, the major problem is it amends, creates or eliminates 70 different federal acts. By burying dozens of significant and damaging changes within a kitchen-sink bill, the government is preventing MPs from doing their job by giving these changes proper consideration and scrutiny.

While undermining the role of Parliament, Bill C-38 is a clear abuse of power and makes a joke of democracy. Once again, Canadians are kept in the dark and it is of the utmost importance that we raise awareness to this unprecedented situation. The Liberal Party will continue to fight against this kind of anti-democratic abuse of power.

Marc Garneau, M

Liberal House Leader