The federal government passed its omnibus budget bill and hurt Canada’s democracy in the process.
Bill C38 has widely been viewed as an assault on the environment as it re-writes many Canadian laws to make it easier for development – namely the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal – to happen. From scrapping protection for many fish bearing streams to providing government with the power to overrule environmental review processes on major projects deemed to be of national interest, there is no question the Canadian government has taken a step back as a steward of the land.
While some environmental regulations prevented economic growth, one would hope that citizens – and their elected representatives of all stripes – would have been able to work together to come up with new laws that helped foster Canada’s economy without hurting the environment in the process. This didn’t need to be an us-versus-them debate. It could have been a collaborative effort that rallied the country around innovation and green economics.
But instead of reaching out to the public and instead of working across party lines, the federal government restricted debate, refused to consult and rammed through a bill without any real dialogue.
The most damning part of Bill C38 is not its impact on future environmental policy, but the anti-democratic approach taken to ensure its passage. And everyone who cares about our world – no matter what your ideological persuasion is – should be deeply offended by what has transpired and stand up to ensure that your voice is heard on this matter.
Indeed, this is first and foremost about democratic principal and secondly its about ensuring that those who represent us know how to represent us.
Not everyone agrees on the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal. Not everyone agrees with what is right and what is wrong with the policies passed in Bill C38. But most can agree, as Canadians and as global citizens, everyone deserves to have a say in the country being shaped in our name. And by having our say, we can debate not only the problems, but also put forward the possible solutions and through dialogue, find new ways to resolve divisive issues.
So take the time to write your MP, if you live in Canada, and make your views on Bill C38 known. It’s our democracy. We deserve a say. And we must make sure going forward that future debates are not about left-versus-right, right-versus-wrong, envrionment-versus-economy; our debates need to be about people, ideas and collaboration. We’re smart enough to do better and, indeed, we must.