'Protesters 'misinformed' about omnibus bill: MP Strahl
Demonstrators against sweeping environmental changes proposed by the Conservative government gathered outside Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP Mark Strahl's office Wednesday.
But there was little hope the demonstration - and others like it across Canada - would change the outcome of the marathon vote taking place on Bill C-38 as the Tories flexed their majority muscle to ram the 425-page omnibus bill through parliament.
From Ottawa, Strahl sent a message to The Progress that the protesters outside his office were exercising a "cherished right ... but I believe they are misinformed."
"Bill C-38 is a plan for jobs, growth and long term prosperity," he said. "It strengthens environmental protections while protecting the economy."
Strahl said he would be voting for the bill because "I believe that, given the fragile global economy ... Canada needs to ensure that we keep our economic advantage."
Hope resident Sharlene Harrison-Hinds, and about 75 others outside Strahl's office, disagreed.
"It's like a Trojan Horse because it has 70 (laws) within it that are going to change the environmental laws in this country ... under the guise of a budget bill," Harrison-Hinds said.
In addition to easing environmental impact reviews and amending criteria for fish habitat protection, the legislation will also raise the age for Old Age Security and change unemployment criteria, along with hundreds of other changes.
"It's 425 pages of surruptitious, sneaky, underhanded legislation and it's a shame that it's probably going to get passed," Harrison-Hinds said.
Opposition MPs were trying to slow down the vote Thursday, but the Tory juggernaut was organizing its 164 MPs (in the 308-seat House of Commons) to ensure passage of the bill.
"We've been voting here in the House since 1 a.m. - 13.5 hours straight so far, with another 10 hours or so of voting to go," Strahl said Thursday.
"We're broken into teams," he explained. "Every five hours or so we get a 30-minute break to grab a bite, get a drink, rest and use the restroom."
The legislation is expected to become law sometime Friday.