As we approach hour eleven of the marathon vote against the budget bill, we should pause to remember that even the heavy lid imposed by the Prime Minister’s Office couldn’t contain the anger boiling inside the Conservative cauldron about sweeping hidden changes within bill C-38.
Former Conservative Fisheries Minister Tom Siddon sounded the warning on the Fisheries Act changes in the budget bill, which gut things like habitat protection provisions. Siddon and his former Conservative colleague John Fraser signed an open letter highlighting their concerns about the weakening of environmental protection standards. And even former Reform Party Environment critic Bob Mills spoke out, saying Canada would “pay a price” for these changes, adding the Prime Minister was surrounding himself with “a bunch of cheerleaders.”
But opposition didn’t stop at former Conservatives. Current Conservative MPs like David Tilson and Michael Chong are arguing for more Environmental Assessments, not less, when it comes to a proposed Ontario “mega quarry” in their region.
But the prize for Conservative honesty goes to the MP for Kootenay-Columbia, David Wilks. MP Wilks was videotaped telling constituents concerned about the sweeping Trojan Horse bill: "I think you'll find a (group) of Conservatives that do hold your concerns. And I am one of them." He also deplored the lack of power of backbench MPs like himself.
Of course the ink was barely dry on his comments before the Prime Minister’s Office jumped into action, twisting MP Wilks’ arm and forcing him to repudiate his own comments.
These cracks in the Conservatives’ facade show that concerns about C-38 go well beyond party lines.
As voting continues – right now NDP MPs are standing up against the reckless gutting of environmental protection laws – concerned Canadians will be watching, and hoping to see a few principled Conservative backbenchers stand up and join us in opposing these reckless changes to our fishery and environmental protection laws.