Stephen Harper's Parliamentary sledge-hammer will be used again this week. This time, to ram through the Conservatives' so-called "budget implementation Bill”, C-38.
This is the 421-page monster that amends 70 different laws all at once. Most of it has nothing to do with actual budget matters. It’s a brutal case of ideology run-a-muck – an incoherent hodge-podge of Mr. Harper’s personal peeves.
C-38 cuts Old Age Pensions, slashes environmental protection, short-changes Aboriginal people, erodes food inspection, cuts back on maritime search-and-rescue, undermines prison safety, gives Cabinet ministers massive power to manipulate immigration and employment insurance … the list goes on, meddling in everything from human reproduction technology to civilian supervision of Canadian spies.
Canadians were told this legislation would not affect front-line federal services. Obviously, that was a lie.
The hit is especially hard in rural Canada. I heard that message repeatedly this past week in get-togethers in Moose Jaw, Swift Current and Medicine Hat.
The much-respected Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) is being destroyed. Both the Indian Head Tree Farm and more than 60 community pastures will be gone.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency will be curtailed, including the loss of its Moose Jaw office which has been vital to the livestock sector, and the closure of cleaning sites that have kept soil-borne diseases from migrating from one province to another.
The Rural and Cooperatives Secretariat has been chopped by 90 per cent. The Cooperative Development Initiative will be gone, and the very popular Adaptation and Rural Development Fund is being mangled beyond recognition.
Federal regional agencies are being diminished. Support for local “Community Futures” groups and economic development boards will be chopped. National Parks and Historic Sites will be cut back.
Literacy programming and federal support for local/regional libraries will be lost. The Community Access Program that brought internet services to rural and remote communities (and to lower-income people in particular) is being killed.
The casualty count continues!
Ralph Goodale - MP for Wascana