Fredericton – Nadine Donovan, a young musician living in Fredericton, felt compelled to organize a spontaneous protest against the federal budget bill in her city as part of a nation-wide day of action against the bill on Saturday, June 2. Sixteen people rallied outside the Fredericton office of MP Keith Ashfield, who is also the federal Fisheries Minister, to protest the attacks on workers and the environment found in Bill C-38 as well as the anti-democratic nature of the bill.
Bill C-38 makes changes to over 70 laws including the eradication of the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act, the rolling back of vital social services like Employment Insurance (EI) and public pensions, the scrapping of fish habitat protection and the streamlining of environmental impact assessments.
Critics say that the bill will make it easier for employers to drive down wages and for mining, oil and gas companies to pillage the environment.
Conservatives have also spoken out against the bill like David Wilks, a Conservative MP. Wilks told his constituents that he was troubled by the bill and that he would consider voting against it if twelve of his Conservative colleagues would do so too. There are calls for thirteen “hero Conservative MPs” to step forward and vote against the bill or just not show up during the day of the vote. Critics want the budget bill to be split apart to not include roll backs in legislation that protect our environment and workers. Wilks publicly reversed his position one day after criticizing the bill.
The protest was the first protest that Donovan has ever organized. She thought the rally was a great success given the short amount of time she had to organize it and that many Frederictonians who would have been there were in Moncton for the rally against shale gas. She plans to continue working against the bill by reaching out with other organizations in the city that share her concerns like the Conservation Council.
Monday, June 4 has been dubbed Black Out Speak Day by a growing number of environmental groups across the country. On this day, 13,000 organizations including the NDP, Public Service Alliance of Canada, environmental groups and Margaret Atwood will be blacking out their websites to protest the bill and the silencing of those critical of Harper’s polices. Harper has been criticized by the groups for spending $8 million to investigate environmental charities.
Ashfield was not at his office during the protest. The rally goers left letters that expressed their concerns with the budget bill under his door. Ashfield has been criticized for failing to meet with constituents who do not share his views on matters such as the environment, the mission in Afghanistan, among other topics.
Protests against the bill were held in over 30 cities across Canada on June 2nd. Over 200 people rallied in small communities like Sechelt, B.C. Photos of actions have been posted here.
Tracy Glynn is a writer and editor with the NB Media Co-op.