Omnibus bill protested in Alberni

A protest outside of Nanaimo-Alberni Member of Parliament James Lunney’s office last weekend was about more than the federal Omnibus bill.

Protesters gather on the steps outside MP James Lunney’s Port Alberni office on Saturday to voice their objections to the Conservatives’ omnibus bill.

A protest outside of Nanaimo-Alberni Member of Parliament James Lunney’s office last weekend was about more than the federal Omnibus bill, two participants said.

At its peak, more than 50 people were gathered at the corner of First Avenue and Argyle Street in front of Lunney’s constituency office for a half hour on Saturday afternoon.

No one could answer why the protest was held on a Saturday when the office was closed except to say that it was being synchronized with similar actions in 40 other B.C. communities.

A protest was also held at Lunney’s Nanaimo constituency office.

The protest was ostensibly about the federal Conservative’s Omnibus Budget.

Known as Bill C-38, the legislation could have an impact on 70 smaller pieces of legislation dealing with everything from bumping old age pension eligibility from age 65 to 67, thinning the environmental review process for major projects and overhauling fisheries laws.

It’s not just Omnibus that citizens should be concerned about though. “Every week there is something new that is bad for the environment, health or social fabric of the country,” John Mayba said. “I had to come. This is something I want to be involved in.”

Mayba said he helped organize the event and after e-mailing a few friends to encourage them to come out “40 to 50 people said they’d come,” he said.

Omnibus has overarching implications for Port Alberni, therefore residents should voice their disapproval, he said. “It impacts EI, pension, environmental legislation. We’re not immune. We’re no different than anywhere else in the country,” Mayba said.

“This could have implications for coal and fisheries too.”

The turnout for the protest was healthy but the day was a success in another way. “We accomplished sending a message to Mr. Lunney and the Conservatives — that we don’t like the direction the country is going in,” Mayba said.

The bill censors government scientists and prevents the public servants from speaking to the public, Jen Fisher-Bradley said. “I’m just outraged that they would try and silence scientists and attack environmental law,” she said.

The protests should serve to help pressure Lunney to vote against this bill, Fisher-Bradley said. “I expect him to fight the bill. I expect him to vote against the bill. I expect him to do the right thing,” she said.

“If he just sweeps us aside then we’ll have to sweep him out of office in the next election.”

The bill is being examined by a Commons finance committee and is set to go to the Commons next week.

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