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Crowd voices displeasure with federal 'Trojan Horse' budget bill

May 24 2012

More than 200 people turned up in Victoria Wednesday to voice their dismay with the Harper government's omnibus budget bill.

As one of the organizers, Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca MP Randall Garrison pointed out, the 425-page bill, which the NDP have dubbed the Trojan Horse budget bill, seeks to amend more than 70 pieces of legislation dealing with everything from Old Age Security to the repeal and replacement of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act - so there was no shortage of targets.

Within the budget "is a clear intent to tear apart the fabric of Canadian society that I've grown up with," said Rev. Nancy Ford of Christ Church Cathedral. "I'm concerned the value of an individual

- is being shifted. The value of a person is connected to financial abundance and that is a worry."

There were many people in Victoria trying to subsist on $610 provincial assistance who couldn't wait until they turned 65 in order to improve their standard of living by collecting Old Age Security, said Kelly Newhook, executive director of the Together Against Poverty Society. When the age of eligibility is raised to 67, people in that situation would have two more years to struggle before they could collect OAS/GIS, she said. "That was very devastating for me to hear."

Michael Clinchy, adjunct professor of biology at UVic, said the Harper government had declared war on the environment and scientists.

"Several weeks ago, it was announced there were mass firings at Parks Canada. What hasn't really been reported is that 70 per cent of these firings involved the scientific staff. So the cuts that have been made right here at the Gulf Islands National Park have been targeted at environmental monitoring and ecological restoration," Clinchy said.

Eric Swanson, whose Dogwood Initiative has collected more than 102,000 signatures against the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline, said Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been clear he wants the pipeline built, "gutting fish protection, gutting environmental protection overall, limiting the amount of time that due diligence can be exercised, restricting the public's right to speak up" along the way.

The hearing, sponsored by Island New Democrat MPs and held at the First Metropolitan United Church hall, is one of several being held across the country.

Garrison and fellow Island NDP MPs Denise Savoie and Jean Crowder promised to take the concerns to Ottawa.


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