Bill will place environment at risk

Bill C-38 is an abuse of the federal budget approval process

This is an open letter to Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas,

I have read your column in defence of Bill C-38. Dan, I beg to disagree with you. Bill C-38 is an abuse of the federal budget approval process. To lump so many pieces of separate and significant federal legislation into one omnibus document (much like throwing all the dirty dishes into the kitchen sink), and then ramming everything through Parliament in the space of a couple of weeks is an outright abuse of the democratic tradition of thorough deliberation and debate. It is also unbecoming of the political affiliation that I have supported for most of my life.

Dan, be careful not to make our Okanagan River Channel an example of “responsible resource management”. If you have ever floated or snorkelled in the channel, you would notice that it is devoid of any riparian vegetation along its sides and bottom. The only fish species inhabiting the channel are the occasional whiskered suckers or carp, grubbing for a few scraps of left overs from our sewage outfall. And by the way, as you swim or float through the treated effluent from other communities farther north, and past our own Penticton sewage plant outfall near Green Mountain Road, you might have noticed the pungent odour of the treated wastewater from our own Penticton sewage treatment process, wafting up from the water you are swimming in.

Dan, you and Mr. Harper’s ministers ought not try to convince us that weakening and “gutting” the Fisheries Act is a good way to create more jobs. As the old saying goes, if the canary dies in the coal mine, you’d better get out in a hurry. Same goes for the fish stocks of Canada, and the government’s arbitrary approach to all the environmental checks and balances that I helped put in place over the past quarter century.

Please get the proposed amendments to Canada’s environmental legislation separated out of the budget bill, now, and deal with them responsibly and methodically before the appropriate Parliamentary committees. That should not be too much to ask of you, as our elected representative.

Tom Siddon

Former Minister of Fisheries and Oceans