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

Casino move, expansion approved by Mission council

Council votes 6-1 in favour of proposal, Chances still need final approval from the BCLC

No plans yet for free WiFi on Abbotsford and Mission buses

BC Transit says they are monitoring the roll-out of free WiFi on Translink vehicles

UPDATE: Heavy rainfall, strong winds in forecast for Lower Mainland

Heavy rains, snow expected till Friday morning

UPDATE: Barge continues to smolder near Silverdale

After 12 hours, Mission firefighters stop their efforts, hand situation over to the province

UFV students raise money to keep ‘nicest’ person in Abbotsford

Foreign student struggles to pay for schooling after Trump withdrawal from Iran deal

UPDATE: B.C. businesses evacuated due to emailed bomb threat, also received in U.S.

Penticton and Comox Valley businesses evacuated Thursday morning

$12K awarded to atheist family who oppose Christmas, Hanukkah in B.C. classroom

Gary Mangel,May Yasue said holidays, Remembrance Day and Valentine’s Day not appropriate in preschool

Coach accused of sexual assault says apology letter was misinterpreted

Dave Brubaker has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual assault and one count of invitation to sexual touching

Give the gift of nature this holiday season

Please don’t be mad, but I bought you a moose

Aboriginal poet faces backlash for calling out NHL-themed totem poles

Rebecca Thomas says she received backlash for asking a drugstore chain to remove NHL merchandise

Some Kotex tampons recalled in Canada and U.S.

In some cases, tampon users sought medical attention “to remove tampon pieces left in the body.”

Sex-assault squad investigated eight incidents at Toronto all-boys’ school

The interim president of a Roman Catholic all-boys school rocked by student-on-student abuse allegations said the football program was cancelled for next year.

Coal power in Canada must disappear by the end of 2029, new regulations say

Canada has significantly cut its dependence on coal largely due to the closure of all coal plants in Ontario.

‘Naive approach’ to China at fault in Meng mess: Scheer

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called on the Trudeau government to “unequivocally denounce any type of repercussions to Canadians on foreign soil.”

Most Read