Gerding: Omnibus bill: The PM doing what he wants, how he wants

So what can trying to save a covey of baby quail chicks have to do with the omnibus bill being proposed in Parliament this week by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government?

It just goes to show that when you mess with Mother Nature, sometimes the best intentions don’t work out, but the damage is done.

The story behind the quail is my wife and two youngsters came across four little chicks scrambling in all directions in our Black Mountain neighbourhood with no moma quail in site.

They scooped up the chicks, in danger of being run over or falling into the nearby street drain, and brought them home.

We know nothing about quail chicks, but we did our best with help from the Internet.

Our dog apparently stepped or bumped one as it scurried around our floor, and it died that night. Very tender little creatures are these quail, as we learned. The next morning, we contacted a local woman who looks after abandoned birds and she came to their rescue. Hopefully she will have better luck than us, with a second of the four quail chicks showing signs of badly suffering.

Which brings me back to the omnibus legislation, proposing sweeping changes, containing more than 70 different pieces of legislation that will impact our environmental protection laws and federal Fisheries Act, as well as age of eligibility for Old Age Security and employment insurance laws.

All of these and other changes proposed in this legislation are worthy of separate bills, each one debated on its merits. But worthwhile debate in Parliament will be meaningless, as Harper uses all his rules of order advantages as head of a majority government to cram this omnibus bill through to the Senate.

For years, U.S. politicians have hidden special entitlements, whether it be tax breaks for their constituent supporters or government spending projects, amidst legislation that deals with other issues. In the U.S., people complain about it but do nothing. And it appears we in Canada are falling prey to the same kind of apathy.

Certainly on the environment and fisheries legislative proposals in the omnibus bill, those directly involved, from biologists to pro-environment advocates, have sounded off about the negative impact they perceive from Harper rewarding his corporate friends with less bureaucratic red tape.

But their voices are lost amidst the political spinning that goes on from politicians these days.

In the U.S., politicians long ago stopped worrying about what the common folk think— they only worry about the millionaires and those who are engaged in the political process.

Polls keep saying that we, the people, place a high priority on protecting our environment, but you’d never know it by Harper’s omnibus legislation. That voice seems to be drowned in a sea of apathy.

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