Fredericton – Representatives from different organizations including conservation, fisheries and labour brought their concerns with Budget Bill C-38 to the office door of Fisheries and Oceans Minister and Fredericton MP Keith Ashfield on Thursday, June 14th. The impacts of Bill C-38 to fish, marine ecosystems, fisheries, workers and public safety were highlighted.
“Bill C-38 tears apart Canada’s system of environmental protection, which was built up over decades by both former Conservative and Liberal governments. In my opinion this contravenes Article 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement where Canada, the US and Mexico explicitly agreed not to relax environmental regulations as a means to attract investment,” said David Coon, Executive Director of CCNB Action.
Matthew Abbott, Fundy Baykeeper, pointed out that, “It is absurd to suggest that we can protect fish without protecting their habitat. The changes proposed in the budget bill demonstrate a lack of understanding of basic ecological principles.” Also, in light of the ongoing cuts to environmental science, including those assessing the impacts of pesticides and contaminants, Abbott further noted that, “At the same time that our government is eliminating and weakening key environmental protections they are removing the very scientists best equipped to assess the impacts of these changes. Choosing not to look will not make the impact of these changes any less real.”
Sheena Young, Fundy North Fishermen’s Association, spoke on Bill C-38’s impact to the lobster fisheries of Fundy North. Janice Harvey, Green Party Fisheries Critic, spoke on how Bill C-38 proposes to gut marine ecosystem monitoring and science when there is a five-fold decrease in phytoplankton in the Gulf of Maine. Dave Shaw, Public Service Alliance of Canada, spoke on how Bill Bill C-38 is laying off government workers and threatening public services and public safety.
“This approach by the Conservative government is wrong-headed and citizens are standing up against it,” said NDP Fisheries and Oceans Critic, Robert Chisholm (Dartmouth-Cole Harbour). “They are making sweeping and inappropriate changes to environmental protection, including to the Fisheries Act in the budget document, essentially stifling debate on the subject. The Conservatives are showing their contempt for Atlantic Canada and our coastal communities.”
Today’s action is the third show of opposition against Bill C-38 at Ashfield’s office in the month of June. On Saturday, June 2nd, concerned citizens protested against Bill C-38 and on World Oceans Day, June 8th, ForestEthics Advocacy plastered fish decorated with impassioned pleas on Ashfield’s office. The pleas, from people across the country, called on Ashfield to protect fish habitat and coastal and marine ecosystems.