By Linda Leon
Open letter to MP Ryan Leef:
The subject of this letter is Bill C-38, the Ominous Budget Bill, and your response to critics of the bill.
Unfortunately, I missed the advertisement for public consultation by the finance committee in 2011. I was not “actively invited.” I hope to be invited in the future.
In your June letter to constituents, you outlined the benefits that the Yukon has received from the federal government. You said, “A vote against Bill C-38 is a vote against that financial support and the additional support that is committed to summer festivals for arts, culture, and First Nation cultural and traditional activities.”
I know you would never suggest that Yukoners must be compliant and silent in order to receive benefits. But you should be aware that there are many mature women in your constituency. And we are hyper-sensitive to anything that resembles, “Sleep with me and I’ll let you keep your job.”
You’ve written that you were worried about the global economic crisis. However, this crisis was used as an excuse to insert poison pills in Bill C-38 that gut environmental protection, destroy our ability to monitor climate change, cut funding for science and libraries, attack workers’ rights and weaken democracy.
It is true that the government could have fallen if the bill hadn’t passed. But the government had the option to not use poison pills in the first place. Opposition parties proposed over 800 amendments to the bill and I know that Conservative MPs received thousands of letters from their constituents urging them to reconsider. It was irresponsible to ignore concerned citizens.
Obviously, there are voters who do support Bill C-38, but even they are holding their noses. The majority of Yukoners did not vote for your government’s mandate.
You have vigorously defended the work of sub-committees. Bill C-38 is almost twice the size of normal budget bills. Given the important repercussions of this bill, I would suggest that 70 hours of work was inadequate.
As you were boasting in your May letter that you had consulted with the National Round Table on the Environment and Economy, this worthy panel was being terminated. The number of worried letters and articles by trained specialists in national newspapers speaks to how little consultants were listened to.
Rhetoric often replaced reason throughout the process as was demonstrated by Ministers Peter Kent, Joe Oliver and Keith Ashfield when they crashed a meeting of the finance sub-committee tasked with studying the consequences of Bill C-38 on environmental assessment and natural resources. They hectored the committee with lengthy repetitious speeches, leaving no time for actual discussion.
Furthermore, quality of work is more important than quantity in any endeavour. Four former fisheries ministers, two of them Conservatives, have emphatically questioned the competence of the Standing Committee for Fisheries and Oceans.
I approve of fiscal prudence, Ryan. But good environmental stewardship is the foundation of long-term prosperity. It is not a luxury.
As for the necessity of this onerous plan, other countries such as Norway and Iceland are doing fine without selling their souls or their sovereignty.
You said, “No other party, and no person asking me to vote against Bill C-38, has shown me a plan.” Here are a few suggestions.
Recall the Omnibus Crime Bill C-10, which has more to do with vindictiveness than justice. It will be shockingly expensive. Canadians would save billions of dollars.
Bring in a carbon tax or a carbon-trading system. Doing nothing will kill Canadian families.
Take the $8 million dedicated to the persecution of charities and put that back into research laboratories such as PEARL.
Cut the government media staff employed as Soviet-style minders whose job is to keep scientists muzzled.
The F-35s, what can I say?
Reduce the communications staff in the Prime Minister’s Office by half. If the government were transparent, it wouldn’t need that much spin. Besides, special interest groups such as the petroleum industry, foreign multinationals and the Conservative Party should pay for their own advertising.
Cancel summer plans by Conservative ministers to travel across the country, frightening and bribing Canadians into accepting the budget. It will save money and reduce our carbon footprint.
With the millions saved we could return the $7.6 million to Elections Canada and restore its ability to investigate Pierre Poutine, which would have the added benefit of reducing the Conservative Party’s appearance of guilt.
Linda Leon is a Whitehorse freelance writer. This is the 15th letter in this series.