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Fisheries advocates' dismayed by Bill C-38

Former Conservative fisheries minister critical



As the controversial Bill C-38 has passed through the House of Commons in Ottawa and Whistler resident John Fraser, who is a former federal fisheries minister, continues to rally against the bill.

Fraser and three other former fisheries ministers have written the prime minister and expressed their concerns with the omnibus budget bill. Now that the bill has made its way through the House of Commons, Fraser has questions about promised consultation the ruling Conservative party plans to conduct.

The letter was signed by Fraser, along with Randall Lewis of the Squamish Nation and Dave Brown, vice-chair of the Squamish to Lillooet Sportfish Advisory Committee.

Contacted last week Fraser said the bill is unfair to government MPs who oppose the non-budgetary changes the bill is about to bring into effect.

"This omnibus bill with so many other statutes and changes to statutes that are not directly connected to the theme of the budget is wrong," said Fraser. "It is incredibly bad process."

According to Fraser, Conservative MPs can't vote against the bill because it is a budget bill and if it fails the government will fall and another election will be triggered.

"If I was in the caucus right now and somebody came to me and announced this is what is going to happen tomorrow with no discussion or anything else there would have been an explosion from Ottawa to the Pacific Ocean," said Fraser.

The 425-page bill will reportedly trigger $5.2 billion in budget cuts. It was passed after the opposition parties went to extraordinary lengths to delay passage. Nearly 24 straight hours was spent voting on more than 800 proposed amendments.

The wide sweeping omnibus bill, once it receives royal assent, will overhaul environmental protection and fisheries laws, expedite natural resource development approvals, raise the age of eligibility for old age security, reform the employment insurance system and bring in hundreds of other changes.

The opposition parties insist environmental oversight will be lost once the bill becomes law and those who need Employment Insurance will be hurt.

The Senate is expected to start discussing the bill this week and into next month.