Skeena-Bulkley MP Nathan Cullen is not hopeful the Conservatives will make any changes to the Budget Bill.
Bill C-38, or the 2012 Budget Bill introduced by the Conservatives is being called the “Trojan Horse Bill” and Cullen is not happy with how the government is handling it.
“The government so far said they’re not willing to change a period or a comma in the 425 pages,” said Cullen.
According to Cullen, the committee examining the budget is only spending about 15 minutes for every act of parliament being impacted by the bill.
“Some of these laws are 60-100 years old and are very important,” he said.
Within the budget bill are many changes to other legislation, with wide-ranging impacts, many of which concern environmental groups and others.
Four previous fisheries ministers have come out in opposition to the deep cuts and changes to the Fisheries Act, and Cullen was questioning Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week in Parliament why he was disregarding their advice.
Former Conservative fisheries minister Thomas Siddon was one of those who came out opposing the changes, saying the changes were “not becoming of a Conservative government” and he was asking Harper to consider the impacts.
Environmental reviews and screenings would reportedly see some large changes in volume should the Budget Bill go through as planned.
According to Cullen, there are now between four and six thousand screenings and environmental assessments done of proposed projects every year. With the changes the Conservatives are putting forward, the number would go to 20 or 30 total.
“How that makes for a healthier economy and environment is beyond me, I don’t understand,” said Cullen. “If they were proud of the changes they were making to the Fisheries Act, trust me, it would be a standing bill, it would have all sorts of balloons and champagne celebrating how smart they are, but they buried it in 425 pages for a reason.”
Cullen said so far the Conservatives have been unwilling to negotiate with the opposition parties on any changes.
As the Opposition House Leader, Cullen has found it “very frustrating in that this government has been showing more arrogance than intelligence in saying it’s their way or the highway.”
The changes also concern Cullen because he sees them as long-lasting.
“These changes will hit home,” he said. “They’re not just going to last a year, by the way. Most budgets, the changes that happen, you c an sometimes fix the following year, these ones may go for a generation or more, they’re profound.”
Protests were being organized against the proposed budget bill across the country to take place on Saturday, June 2.