Greens decry passage of contentious federal bill

Groups fear habitat will take backseat to development

Protesters outside the Maple Ridge office of Conservative MP Randy Kamp urge him to be a hero and vote against Bill C-38. He didn't and the contentious legislation passed the House of Commons Monday night.

Environmentalists say the federal government’s passage of Bill C-38 spells dark times ahead for everything from salmon to endangered species due to weakened federal laws.

Opponents campaigned online and demonstrated at Conservative MPs’ offices across the Lower Mainland this month in hopes of convincing 13 Tories nation-wide to vote with the Opposition to defeat the omnibus budget implementation bill.

It passed the House of Commons late Monday but must still go through the Senate in the coming weeks and get royal assent.

Georgia Strait Alliance executive director Christianne Wilhelmson called it a “devastating blow” that alters long-standing pillars of Canadian environmental protection.

She was among numerous activists reacting Tuesday, arguing the Conservatives have put their agenda to advance development and oil pipelines – such as Kinder Morgan’s planned Trans Mountain pipeline twinning – ahead of wildlife habitat.

“What’s going to happen when that pipeline needs to go through areas where there are fish our government has deemed unimportant?” Wilhelmson asked.

The impacts won’t be fully understood for years, she said, but added environmental groups will find ways to fight back.

“British Columbians can look forward to low protection for wild salmon, fewer environmental safeguards for large industrial projects, less science and more political interference with Canada’s remaining environmental laws,” predicted Wilderness Committee policy director Gwen Barlee.

Bill C-38 also streamlines environmental assessments, which critics say will  accelerate approvals for new oil pipelines across B.C. and reduce the opportunities for concerned citizens to be heard.

“Ignoring democracy and silencing First Nations in environmental assessments of major projects will only bring conflict to our territories,”  said Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.

Greens are also angry about provisions that could yank the charitable status of environmental groups whose activities are found to step too far over the line from  charitable advocacy to politics.

Government ministers have argued the environmental protection changes are reasonable, replacing many outdated or unreasonable provisions that in some cases prevented farmers from maintaining drainage ditches that had been colonized by fish.

The budget law also pushes eligibility for Old Age Pension back two years to age 67 for younger Canadians and reduces eligibility for some users of Employment Insurance.

The Tories dodged more detailed scrutiny of the changes by embedding many non-budget related provisions in the budget bill, despite Opposition complaints.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Harrison sailor looking for competitors to race model boats

Bernhard Van Velze is hoping to create a club for model sailboats at Harrison Lake

Community artists, amateurs wanted to create Kent anniversary logo

The 125th anniversary committee is hoping to choose a logo designed by the community

Kent to weigh in on ride-sharing policies

The district will be submitting comments to the province on what ride sharing should look like

Chilliwack prolific offender wanted yet again

B.C.-wide warrant issued for David Allen Geoghegan

One man, two women charged with stolen pickup downtown Chilliwack

None of the three have criminal history in B.C.

Keep focus on helping Canadians at home, Trudeau tells MPs at start of meeting

Trudeau said the Liberals will offer Canadians hope amid issue like climate change and global tensions

Pettersson returns to lead Canucks to 3-2 win over Red Wings

Vancouver’s super rookie has 2 points in first game back after knee injury

Crash closes Coquihalla southbound lane south of Merritt

Accident occurred approximately 26 kilometres south of Merritt

Skaters stranded in Saint John, NB, amid storm on last day of championships

More than half of the flights out of the city’s airport were cancelled due to the weather

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi was facing charges related to alleged sexual assault, criminal harassment, assault and forcible confinement of a woman

12 poisoned eagles found on Vancouver Island

Improper disposal of euthanized animal suspected

Olympic softball qualifier to be held in B.C.

Tournament is to be held Aug. 25 to Sept. 1

B.C. resident creates global sport training program

The 20 hour course teaches the science and application of interval training at the university level

B.C. VIEWS: Fact-checking the NDP’s speculation tax on empty homes

Negative-option billing is still legal for governments

Most Read