Letters to the Editor

Omnibus budget bill dubbed a ‘strongarm’ tactic

To the editor:

Re: Conservatives Follow Liberal Tradition, June 19 Capital News.

Mr. J. Brian Batter uses the tired Conservative tactic of deflecting debate away from their own actions by mudding others, which conveniently leaves out a few important facts.

It’s true the omnibus bill is not new, but what is new is how the Harper government has taken parliamentary practices to levels not seen before, and if in times-past democracy was stifled, then it is all but vanishing under this government.

Is it because (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper fears Canadians do not want the kind of Canada he envisions?

Is anyone fooled the Conservatives are trying to hide contentious issues with their more than 400-page omnibus budget bill?

Raising the age of eligibility for OAS is wise; making EI more efficient is needed, but we are a resource country and the environment is very important to future generations of Canadians.

It is OK that the protection process is messy and long, otherwise it would not be thorough. Streamlining the review process is another word for less protection.

Does anybody really believe the environmental changes within Bill C-38 should not have been on their own?

It is not a stretch after Canada’s experience with the secretive Harper government to suspect these environmental-rule changes were specifically buried to minimize debate and scrutiny.

Yes, other governments—namely Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal government—used omnibus budget bills but his Bill C-150 crammed in changes to the criminal laws that people wanted, like legalizing homosexuality, abortion and contraception, permitting lotteries, imposing restrictions on gun ownership, new drinking and driving penalties, relaxing marijuana laws, outlawing harassing phone-calls, regulating misleading advertising and redefining what constituted cruelty to animals.

But even so, Trudeau’s omnibus bill was only 126 pages long with 120 clauses. It is dwarfed by Harper’s more than 400 pages with 750 clauses that, combined with the closure he imposed, make any kind of reasonable analysis of the controversial clauses impossible.

In Trudeau’s day, the Opposition at the time howled that it stifled democracy, however what is not mentioned by Conservatives today is that those were changes already called for by the public. At the time the majority of Canadians told the government loud and clear that they wanted them.

The loud and clear voice of the public today is telling the Conservatives it is upset about the environmental changes.

This is not democracy in action.

What is upsetting Canadians is the strongarm tactics used to impose the version of Canada Harper and a small minority want, not the kind of Canada the majority of Canadians want.

Many see this kind of tactic coming from fear rather than confidence in an ability to openly work with all Canadians for a better Canada

Jon Peter Christoff,

West Kelowna

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