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Protesters rally in Victoria against federal budget bill

Jun 04 2012

Times Colonist

Victoria residents joined a nationwide protest Saturday morning, rallying against the federal government's proposed budget bill that they say could eliminate dozens of laws in one broad stroke.

Most events were held at Conservative MP offices in various Canadian cities, but with no Tory elected in Victoria, protesters gave speeches in front of NDP MP Denise Savoie's office on Blanshard Street, while a second rally was held at the constituency office of Elizabeth May, the MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands.

The intention was to urge other parties to vote against Bill C-38, an omnibus piece of legislation that critics say would — among many changes — deregulate environmental protection, weaken the Fisheries Act and raise eligibility age for Old Age Security from 65 to 67.

From Savoie's office, dozens of protesters marched to the Conservative Party's office on Johnson Street.

National advocacy organization Leadnow.ca says it confirmed that more than 70 protests were held across the country.

"Not only does this bill severely threaten our environmental protections, it is inherently undemocratic," said Victoria event organizer Kailey Willetts.

Complaints against the bill were wide-ranging, including people's "disapproval of the lack of discussion of the many parts of the bill in Parliament," said Elizabeth Cronin, who attended the Victoria rally.

In Calgary, more than 40 residents were banging pots and pans outside Stephen Harper's constituency office Saturday.

Protest organizer Jim Picken said everyone from scientists to seasonal workers as well as fish and migratory birds will be affected if the bill is passed.

"I think it will change Canadian society for the worse," he said.

Full support by a Conservative majority will force the bill through, but Leadnow.ca protesters are hopeful that not everyone will vote in favour of it.

"We are looking for 13 hero Conservative MPs who will work together to stop the budget, split it apart and start over by inviting Canadians to help them craft laws that will work better for all of us," said Jamie Biggar, executive director of Leadnow.ca.

With a file from the Calgary Herald