Opposition fights omnibus budget bill to the end
June 15th, 2012 - 3:25pm
For over 22 hours non-stop, we stood up to a bully for Canada, says Cullen
OTTAWA – Along with his 100 colleagues, Opposition House Leader Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley) stood up for more than 22 hours for democracy during votes on the Omnibus budget bill.
“This omnibus budget is an absolute abuse. It’s got everything but the kitchen sink in it and will destroy some of the best legislation that has taken years to build in this country,” said Cullen
The bill changes almost 70 pieces of legislation. It dilutes environmental assessments, limits access to Employment Insurance, cuts pension security, destroys the Auditor General’s powers, and makes far-reaching changes to the Fisheries Act.
“Canadians want accountability and transparency. You can’t have that when you’ve got a bill that says lump it or leave it,” Cullen said.
Cullen is very worried because Northwesterners will be hit hard.
“Seasonal workers in the mining and fishery industries are going to see their EI benefits slashed. Those fighting the Enbridge pipeline will see the environmental review cut short. This government keeps trying to silence opponents and is doing everything it can to ram it through.”
MPs were in the House around the clock working through 844 amendments bunched into 157 votes. During votes where environmental assessments were gutted and where Canada’s withdrawal from Kyoto was finalized, New Democrats made a point of voting slowly.
“This bill will change Canada as we know it. It shouldn’t be so easy, so we slowed it down,” said Cullen. “I don’t mind doing what it takes to stand up to a bully. It energizes me.”
Though tough at times, the Opposition kept in good spirits. When the time came to vote on pension security, all members were on their feet chanting and clapping.
“The energy was amazing,” said Cullen. “Feedback from Canadians during our budget hearings, on social media, in letters and emails has been astounding. Canadians didn’t give the Conservatives this mandate and they want this government to know that.”
The omnibus budget bill is expected to pass through the Senate rapidly by the end of next week and become law before summer recess.
“This is not defeat,” said Cullen. “We are looking to 2015 and we’ll continue to hold this government to account until then. I’ll be fighting for Northwesterners to protect our pristine waters, land and way of life.”