Omnibus bill 'insulates' Canada's economy: MP Strahl
It was a "black day" for Canada's environment.
Or it was the salvation of the nation's economy.
Those were the contrasting views of passage of the Conservative government's omnibus budget bill last week in Ottawa.
Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP Mark Strahl said after the Friday vote that the Jobs, Growth and Long Term Prosperity Act will "insulate" Canada's economy from the ravages of the financial chaos in Europe.
"There's a real threat things could unravel there very quickly," he said.
And he insisted the legislation will better protect the environment by bringing "limited resources of government to where they can have the most effect."
"It will protect the Fraser River fishery and allow farmers in Agassiz to clean out their ditches," he said.
Tory MPs had to muster their slim 10-seat majority in the House 160 times to defeat amendments proposed by Opposition MPs.
"We had to win every one or the government fell," Strahl said.
There was one more vote Monday before the bill goes to the Senate for final assent, but Strahl said he didn't expect Liberal senators to make "as heroic a stand as the NDP in the House."
"I expect it will proceed much like other legislation," he said.
Wendy Major, a Chilliwack resident who took part in a protest outside Strahl's Chilliwack office last Wednesday, said she is "disappointed our economy is going to be open for business" as a result of the vote.
"My heart goes out to all those people who tried their best to have the present government see reason," she said.
About 80 people gathered outside Strahl's office to protest the bill.
Major is also an organizer of the Pipe Up Network opposed to expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, which environmentalist Ben West said will have a better chance of approval now because of the Friday vote.
But he believes the very success of the Tory bill will turn up the temperature of public anger and create a "broader coalition" of opposition scaring away potential economic investors in Canada.
"If anything, it creates an even greater uncertainty," he said, "and I think there will be perhaps even more court challenges."
Marvin Rosenau, a vocal critic of the changes to fish habitat provisions in the legislation, was most upset by the way government achieved its goal.
"It's one thing to say we are going to do one thing or another, and the majority of the country agrees," he said. "It's a totally different kettle of fish when basic parliamentary protocols are ignored in order to ram through distasteful legislation."
"The passing of this legislation was certainly a black day for Canada," he said.