Bill C-38, the federal government’s omnibus bill that passed June 14, continues to generate controversy and opposition across Canada. In Winnipeg, opposition has been particularly lively in past weeks. Canada Day saw demonstrations in Winnipeg and 11 other Canadian centres.
In Winnipeg, citizens held a Funeral for Canada in the Osborne Village neighbourhood, a display of activist art at the St. Norbert Arts Centre and a Vigil for Canada on the outskirts of The Forks National Historic Site.
Bill C-38 combined budgetary spending and cuts with amendments to over 70 pieces of existing legislation. Critics of the bill maintain that it should have been divided into several pieces of legislation so that each could be properly examined by Parliament and by Canadians. Among the bill’s many features, it
- repeals the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and introduces a weaker version
- closes Canadian world-class science research centres, such as the Experimental Lakes Area and the Cereal Research Centre at the University of Manitoba
- removes protection of endangered species and their habitat, when approving pipeline projects, by amending the Species at Risk Act and the Navigable Waters Protection Act
- guts the Fisheries Act by removing provisions for habitat protection
- repeals the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act
- eliminates the National Round Table on Environment and Economy
- repeals the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act
- reforms Old Age Security by raising the age of eligibility for the program
- forces Employment Insurance users to accept work that does not correspond to their training or customary salary
In Winnipeg, critics of the legislation have taken to holding noisy pots and pans demonstrations, such as the one held at the office of Conservative MP Joyce Bateman (Winnipeg South Centre) on June 9.