Protest planned for “anti-democratic” omnibus budget bill

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Tyler Clarke
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Calling the federal government’s omnibus budget bill “anti-democratic,” a group of local protestors are planning a demonstration in Prince Albert on Saturday.

A scene from the Prince Albert chapter of the Council of Canadians’ last protest, which was held in front of Randy Hoback’s constituency office in response to the government’s omnibus crime bill.

Calling the federal government’s omnibus budget bill “anti-democratic,” a group of local protestors are planning a demonstration in Prince Albert on Saturday.

At issue is the fact that the federal omnibus budget bill, Bill C-38, includes not only finances but also changes to more than 70 laws.

“A bad budget will last a year, but this will last for generations,” Prince Albert chapter of the Council of Canadians member Rick Sawa said.

“Budgets are usually just numbers — not very important policies.”

The local Council of Canadians are joining groups from throughout Canada to protest the omnibus budget bill on Saturday. Leadnow.ca, a group that advocates for process through democracy — a goal shared by the Council of Canadians — is initiating the national protest.

Federal debate around many important issues has been cut short, with everything crammed into the 421-page budget implementation act. The preferred action would include the separation of each important piece of legislation, Sawa said.

“We’re just very upset that the government is cutting short the debate,” he said. “We … want people to come out and share their displeasure for this.”

In addition to the brevity of debate, Sawa cites a number of items within the omnibus budget bill as being troublesome.

One area of concern is what Sawa feels is an opening up of the environment to destruction.

“It empowers the federal cabinet to give the go-ahead to pipelines and other major energy projects regardless of the conclusions of regulatory hearings on the feasibility of the projects,” he said.

A bad budget will last a year, but this will last for generations. Prince Albert of the Council of Canadians member Rick Sawa

“It provides timelines for environmental hearings on pipelines and will block participation in the hearings by those not directly affected by the project.”

The bill also alters the process for issuing permits under the Species at Risk Act, allowing the National Energy Board to permit activities that kill or harm endangered species.

The Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act will be scrapped, Employment Insurance benefits will change, Ottawa’s spy watchdog will be axed and Old Age Security payments will be changed effective 2023, with the age of eligibility bumped from 65 to 67.

These changes are the tip of the iceberg, with many additional changes included, which are expected to pass by June 8 or as late as June 22.

The Prince Albert protest will be held outside of Prince Albert MP Randy Hoback’s constituency office on Saturday. 

Sawa said that he hopes to see Hoback stop by to answer questions and address their concerns.

“It is his democratic duty to meet with his constituents,” Sawa said.

Hoback’s constituency office is located at 137 15th St. E. The protest will begin at noon, with anyone interested in participating encouraged to show up. 

Organizations: Prince Albert, Council of Canadians member Rick Sawa, National Energy Board Employment Insurance Old Age Security

Geographic location: Canada, Kyoto, Ottawa

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