Evelyn Vermette

Evelyn Vermette

Protesters urge Calkins to vote against Bill C-38

Nine protestors were outside Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins office’s on Wednesday to urge him to vote against Federal Budget Bill, Bill C-38.

PONOKA — Nine protestors were outside Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins office’s on Wednesday to urge him to vote against Federal Budget Bill, Bill C-38.

That’s six more than were gathered outside Calkins office on June 2 to protest the omnibus bill that will impact 70 acts including employment insurance and the environment.

“I think people are not used to actual, physical protests in Central Alberta. It’s almost like a cone of silence. I think once people begin to see others step up willing to say — wait a minute, we don’t like what’s going on — perhaps more will happen,” said organizer Susan Young, of Lacombe, at the Ponoka protest that got glances from drivers and a few supportive honks.

It was one of several 13 Heros protests to be held across the country on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. calling on 13 Conservative MPs to vote against the bill so it can be stopped.

The voting marathon on the massive 450-page bill was set to begin late Wednesday.

Opposition MPs contend the bill includes provisions that have no place in budget legislation.

For instance, it would overhaul environmental legislation, including reducing the number of federal environmental assessments, leaving the job mostly in the hands of the provinces.

It looks at reforming old age security, so that the age of eligibility would be raised to 67 from 65 over a six-year period, starting in 2023.

The bill also looks at restricting employment insurance benefits.

Evelyn Vernette, of Wetaskiwin, said the bill is just plain bad.

“We want the bill broken up into parts that can be scrutinized and discussed. These are sweeping, long-term changes,” Vernette said.

Young called the bill anti-democratic.

“The Conservatives will say it’s all about the economy. But if you wanted to take that tact, then you could have one big bill at the beginning of Parliament and send everyone home.”

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