The Tories’ Omnibus Budget Bill 38 has been called ‘sneaky’ and ‘undemocratic’ earning it the nickname ‘The Trojan horse bill’. But that is a bit of a misnomer. It’s more like a Trojan horse stuffed with even more Trojan horses.
A whopping 450 pages, this behemoth piece of legislation lumps about 60 bills into one giant bill, making a mockery of Canada’s parliamentary system. No discussion, no debate. Just a majority government trying to ram through sweeping reforms without considering the burden of our democratic process.
One section of the bill seeks to undo decades of environmental protection laws while silencing Canadians who try to defend Mother Earth. Changes include weakened protection for fish and species at risk, a less comprehensive environmental assessment law, broad decision making powers for Cabinet and Ministers, and less accountability and fewer opportunities for public participation. So now when they want to build pipelines through pristine land they’ll just do it.
Another section of Bill 38 takes aim at Canada’s social safety nets, like employment insurance and old age security. The plan is to make it harder for Canadian’s to get money from the government, forcing people to work below their skill level while moving the age of retirement from 65 to 67. Typical conservative policies here, but that doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.
The omnibus bill also attacks Canadian labor, enacting fundamental changes to the power balance between employers and employees — all to the detriment of workers. One line in the bill states ‘The Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act is repealed,” offering no explanation why. These 10 words will wipe out a 1985 law compelling contractors bidding on federal contracts to pay “fair wages” and overtime, all without any say from Canadians.
Worst of all, this bill threatens nothing less than our precious Canadian sovereignty, paving the way for American law enforcement to patrol Canadian soil. Great, a few more years under the Conservatives and our skies will be like they are south of the border - filled with weaponized drones.
All in all, Omnibus Bill 38 is an awful piece of legislation loaded with unvetted laws and reforms. But, even as opposition comes from within the party itself, the Tories remain hell-bent on passing it.
The only option we have left is for public outcry to reach such deafening levels that the government has no choice but to capitulate. This means contacting MPs, filling out petitions, taking part in protests and even marching in the streets.
Otherwise the damage done to Canadian law by this bill could take decades to fix using proper democratic channels. And the devastation dealt to our environment and to Canada as a whole might never be undone.