Once upon a time in Canada's 41st Parliament, 1st Session, there was an omnibus bill that changed 70 federal laws in 420 pages titled "C-38 - The Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act". Sold as a "budget bill" it would not go through committee and be examined as its components warranted. Instead it would get fast-tracked through the Finance committee only. Between 1994 and 2005, budget bills had averaged almost 74 pages. Since Emperor Harper received the keys in 2006, budget bills have averaged almost 309 pages.
Despite the statements of Leader of the Opposition Harper that omnibus legislation was undemocratic and ridiculous to lump such changes into one bill, in keeping with his brand of "transparency" and "accountability" they only grew longer once he was calling the shots. As Canadians are finding more and more every day that goes by, the effects of these wholesale stroke of a pen revisions or deletions of law take a while to be felt out in the real world. The furor over C-38 came and went with the Conservatives limiting debate, invoking closure and ramming it through the House. What did this bill do?
It amended the Fisheries Act, Employment Insurance Act, Fair Wages and Hours of Work Act, eliminated the Environmental Assessment Act, the NRTEE Board, Kyoto Accord signatory status and the CSIS Inspector General. Navigable Waters Act, Oil and Gas Operators Act, Species At Risk Act, Energy Board Act, Parks Canada Act and others were all considerably weakened. In a so-called budget implementation act.
Move ahead three years and this forest fire season looks to be a record setter. Budgets blown, bodies on the ground in demand, equipment lacking and Premiers and Prime Ministers missing in action. Are there connections? We will look at the conditions and try to determine that.
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