Dear Ms. __,
Thank you for your correspondence regarding the conservative government’s recent budget enactment legislation.
Omnibus legislation of this kind is a sleazy trap. MPs and Senators are made to vote on massive bills which are subjected to little or no scrutiny or review, and then labeled ‘obstructionist’ when they object. Moreover, the fact that the vast majority of issues covered by the bill were not identified in the 2012 Budget raises additional concerns.
The most recent budget enactment bill is 433 pages long. Opposition parties had to fight doggedly to allow the legislation to even be studied by Parliamentary committees. And now the Conservatives, with the support of the NDP, have altered the rules so as to bar opposition amendments to the bill from even being considered in committee.
This is a sad, disingenuous way of doing business, and Canadians certainly deserve better from their elected representatives. There are serious oversights in this bill especially regarding environmental issues, which my colleague Kirsty Duncan has identified and explained at length in the House of Commons. Most glaring among them is the amendment of the Navigable Waters Act to dramatically reduce the number of waterways protected. Of the roughly 32,000 lakes in Canada, only 97 lakes are now considered worthy of protection. The same can be said of only 62 rivers across our great nation.
And, chillingly, the omnibus legislation goes on to exempt pipeline impacts on waterways from being considered in environmental assessments. This is an invitation to environmental disaster. These issues need to be managed with an eye to evidence, and history. We know that, despite our best efforts, pipelines can rupture. Are we really supposed to believe that this fact should not be considered when we decide where to put our pipelines?
C-45 also addresses the sovereignty and inherent rights of Canada’s indigenous peoples without regard for the government’s compulsory duty to consult them. A number of bills have recently come before Parliament, in which the government claims to be acting in the interests of aboriginal peoples. This is a cruel and cynical misrepresentation. Canada’s Aboriginal peoples and the organizations that represent them have been adamant in their opposition to C-45, and their demands for greater consultation. Their voices – better than any number of trite press releases from the Prime Minister’s Office – tell us something about exactly how poorly Aboriginal peoples’ interests are being represented by this government.
Thanks once again for your correspondence on this matter. I and my caucus colleagues will continue to oppose this government’s flagrant abuse of the environment and Canada’s indigenous peoples. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any further assistance.
Hon. Dr. Hedy Fry, M.P, P.C.
Liberal Party of Canada – Health Critic
This is the response I received when I wrote to the Senators concerning Bill C-45. At this point, it is the only response I have received out of the 100 Senators.