Time for Leef to walk the walk

Open letter to Ryan Leef: Conservative MP David Wilks recently told his constituents that he had serious concerns about the omnibus budget, Bill C-38. He revealed that backbenchers first saw the 420-page document when it was released to the public.

Open letter to Ryan Leef:

Conservative MP David Wilks recently told his constituents that he had serious concerns about the omnibus budget, Bill C-38. He revealed that backbenchers first saw the 420-page document when it was released to the public. How can any Member of Parliament vote on something this large and important without proper review?

I’d like to bring to your attention a list of worrying Bill C-38 clauses for your perusal.

Budgets for libraries and archives have been slashed.

Rights and Democracy, an independent agency that monitors human rights and promotes democracy abroad, will be cut.

The National Round Table of the Environment and the Economy is to be shut down. (Important research and advice are being dispensed with because the prime minister is next to God and knows all that there is to be known.)

The auditor general’s job will be reduced. The Human Resources Council, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Northern Pipeline Agency and Canadian Polar Commission will report directly to ministers who are neither experts nor transparent.

Elections Canada has had its effectiveness compromised by a $7.5-million cut.

Eight million dollars in public money has been allotted to investigate and harass environmental organizations. (All the while the Kluane Lake Research Station is scraping by on $80,000 of its $100,000 former budget and must crawl on its hands and knees to beg for adequate funding in the future.)

Due to budget cuts, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council has ceased funding for many important scientific research facilities and projects across Canada.

The Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Science has been cut.

The new Fisheries Act will protect fisheries instead of fish habitat.

Amendments to the Budget Implementation Act, exempt industries from repercussions over harm to fish habitat.

Amendments to the Fisheries Act gives industry, developers and provinces the right to authorize harm to waters and wetlands.

Amendments to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency allow the federal government to cherry-pick which projects will require assessment.

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act has increased time limits on waste disposal and includes an open-ended clause for protection of species at risk.

Amendments to the Navigable Waters Protection Act exempt pipelines and power lines.

The National Energy Board has had its reviews limited to two years regardless of the size of the project. Cabinet will be allowed to reverse its decisions willy-nilly.

The National Energy Board is exempt from having to protect critical habitat.

The Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act is repealed.

Changes to the Employment Insurance program will force EI recipients to take lower-paying jobs outside of their fields.

Amendments to the Employment Equity Act exempt federal contract workers from protection.

The Office of the Inspector General at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has been cut, thereby removing an important watchdog.

Changes to the Food and Drugs Act will permit fast-tracked approvals to new foods and drugs, leaving Canadians vulnerable to harm.

CBC has had its budget cut by 10 per cent.

A five per cent cut to the Office of the Information Commissioner will cripple access to information.

Debate on Bill C-38 has been limited. Committee work has been rushed and, in at least one case, sabotaged. The amendments have not been given the thoughtful, research-based work they require in order to make good policy.

The bill is an assault on the environment and workers’ rights with the intention of promoting industry at the expense of Canadians. “Long Term Prosperity,” as applied to this bill, is an oxymoron.

In a letter to your constituents, you said; “The environment, particularly as it impacts the North, is an extremely important issue. My commitment is to continue to work towards a sustainable future for Yukon, and ensure that voice is heard in Ottawa.”

David Wilks said that if 12 other Conservative MPs stood with him and voted against the omnibus budget bill, it would be defeated. Ryan, it is time to walk the walk. Please vote against the omnibus budget bill.

May your time in Ottawa be constructive and may you walk on the high road.

Linda Leon is a Whitehorse freelance writer. This is the 14th letter in this series.

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