The budget may have passed in the House of Commons, but some Fort St. James residents were not taking it lying down.
There were a group of opponents to the omnibus budget bill who gathered in Spirit Square on June 16 to help raise awareness about the bill and voice their displeasure at the sweeping changes it included to many areas of legislation.
While the budget had passed through the House on June 14, it will still need to be approved by the Senate.
Rally organizer Kelly Inden didn’t hold out much hope their efforts would change anything, but she still wanted those opposed to the budget to express their opinion.
Inden was concerned about many parts of the budget bill, but locally, one of the things she saw impacting the community were the huge cuts to Parks Canada. This will result in a one month reduction in the operating season of the local historic site, and the Product Development Officer position being reduced by 25 per cent.
“As we go forward, I want to know that those parks get funded,” said Inden. “History is important.”
She also had concerns what she saw as the undemocratic nature of the budget, pushing through changes which she thought should have been introduced as separate bills to allow for full debate and analysis.
“I don’t think democracy is a waste of time, I don’t think discussion is a waste of time, it’s what we’re paying them all to be there for,” she said.
She also will be paying attention in September when the next budget is introduced, and hopes the vocal opposition of groups like hers will have an impact on the government for future budgets.
Another rally attendee, Kim Henderson, said her concerns ranged from cuts to post-secondary education funding to protecting clean drinking water for her children and grandchildren, given the changes to environmental assessments, as well as other concerns about the rights which the bill will grant to police from the United States which allow them to cross the border.
Some of the younger rally-goers had concerns about the process of the budget bill and how the Harper government was using their majority, Rhiannon Gammon called it “undemocratic.” Marti Tamayo-Henderson said it overlooked the concerns of Canadians and was in essence, effectively “taking away the voice of the Canadian people.”
The group had information on the budget available at Spirit Square during the rally, and postcards for people to sign and send to members of government.
On June 14, even after 22 hours of slow voting on all of the amendments brought forward by opposition members, the Harper government voted through their controversial budget legislation with no changes.
The bill will bring in not only a budget, but also changes to Employment Insurance, the Fisheries Act, environmental assessments and many other areas of legislation.