A national day of action that saw Canadian protesters outside the offices of many Conservative MPs was planned in part to tweak the consciences of those who may have second thoughts about the federal government’s recent “omnibus” budget bill.
At a Tuesday interview, Gabriolan and protestor Howard Stiff said that he and “at least three other Gabriolans that I am aware of” rallied June 2 with “about 100” others in front of Conservative MP James Lunney’s office in Nanaimo. He said they were there because “we think there’s some dissension in the ranks in the Conservative party around this omnibus bill”. He referred to a recent YouTube video showing Conservative MP David Wilks saying that if “there were 12 more Conservative MPs like him that we could stop this bill – assuming a unanimous vote against it in the opposition”.
As previously discussed in The Shingle, Bill C-38 – a 425-page budget bill – has raised concerns in a range of respondents, from environmentalists who say it drastically reduces environmental protections, to human rights groups who say it will harm Canada’s social safety net and democracy itself.
Combined with an Elections Canada investigation into “closely contested” elections that have been “allegedly contaminated” by the Robocall scandal, Stiff said, “I think the rally organisers were saying ‘here’s a way we can get at some of the Conservative MPs … and put some pressure on them’. Of course it was a Saturday, the MP wasn’t there, but we signed a big letter with admonitions to protect the environment and … essentially get off the omnibus”.
There were between 27 and 34 Conservative ridings alleged to have been subject to Robocalls, Stiff added. He said 14 of those ridings were won by Conservatives by less than 500 votes “on average”.
Some protesters brought pots and pans to the rally at Lunney’s office, Stiff said, in solidarity with “Casserole” protests in Quebec.
Quebec media reports the Casseroles – a French historical protest tradition – are in response to tuition increases, other government-imposed austerity measures, and most recently a Quebec anti-protest law that some have called “draconian”.
There were also drummers at the Nanaimo rally, Stiff said, and after the rally, “we took it out to the highway, and there were people honking and that was great”.
“I think most Canadians feel (the omnibus bill) is government by stealth”, Stiff said. “It’s too big a bill. Disregarding the content of the bill, which is …focussed on stripping out environmental protections and any kind of teeth that our fisheries Act has, most people consider the content un-Canadian and the process undemocratic”
The Conservatives are trying to push the bill, which is “too big to absorb” too quickly, Stiff said. He said the government is “stealthily dismantling our democracy”, and Conservative MPs need to be pressured to stand against allowing that to happen.
“The Harper government isn’t really a Conservative government”, Stiff added. “It’s the right-wing element of the so-called Conservative government”. He thought the omnibus bill might be something that would get Conservative MPs to stand up to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Gabriolan Nancy Crozier who also attended the rally said she heard about it the night before through the online political group LeadNow.org. She said she decided to attend because she had some salmon heads and tails that she thought would deliver the “perfect” message.
Crozier said she presented the highly-aromatic fish heads “ceremoniously” at the door of Lunney’s office to make it clear that Bill C -38 “stinks of a rotten government that has a reek of entitlement – which frosts me and many other Canadians”.
There are many things in Bill C-38 that have nothing to do with budgets, Crozier added. She said the bill is all about “controlling people and resources and using those resources to create wealth for the very few”.