Funeral for democracy
London Community News
By Mallory Clarkson/London Community News/Twitter: @MalloryClarkson
A half of a dozen tombstones popped up in the parking lot of London North Centre Conservative MP Susan Truppe’s office Monday afternoon (June 18), commemorating what activists were calling the funeral of democracy.
Holli-Lynne Elash, member of the London District Labour Council with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and No One Is Illegal London, said with the passing of the “omnibus budget bill C-38” last week, so did democracy as Canadians know it.
“It’s dramatic times we’re living in,” Elash said, gesturing to the makeshift cemetery.
She argued the budget contained around 70 items activists don’t believe should have been included, such as changes to the temporary foreign worker program and employment insurance (EI).
“In addition, we’re also here with Doctors for Refugee Health (who) want to talk about the changes to the interim health plan that have been passed basically around the same without discussion or comment or much news,” she said. “(This means) refugees can no longer get medical care, which again is a death to the democratic nature of this country as a safe haven for refugees.”
The federal budget was around 450 pages long. Truppe maintained changes were made to the immigration process to clamp down on “bogus refugees.” She added the government is also making them pay for some of their own health insurance.
“If they’re a bogus refugee, why should they get better than the Canadians?” Truppe said. “If you qualify, perfect; we’re a very generous country. But if you don’t qualify and you’re lying to get here, you have to go back.”
Regarding changes to EI and the temporary foreign worker program, Truppe stressed those were made with the average taxpayer in mind.
“We’re going to be a little more strict on bringing in foreign workers, but the bottom line is, we’re going to give those jobs to Canadians that want them,” Truppe said.
The MP also argued people who qualify for EI will receive the assistance, but it won’t necessarily be paid out for seasonal workers who apply every year.
“The average tax payer and the average constituent are thrilled to death about what we’re doing for EI because it’s their money.”
Activist Jude McHugh said she attended the demonstration because she was appalled with both what was included in the budget and how the government approached it.
“The way the whole thing has gone down behind closed doors without the input of the Canadians who it’s affecting,” McHugh said. “It took place in a completely non-democratic way and it seems that Harper seems to forget this is a democratic country.”
Truppe, on the other hand, said the budget was debated for around 60 hours — more than any other bill in 20 years.
“This particular bill is no different than any other budget,” she argued. “It’s actually smaller than other budgets and it’s been debated 10-times more and its simply because the Opposition is making it sound like there is more going on here and we’re hiding things.”
But, the biggest point of contention for McHugh wasn’t the length of time it was debated in parliament, but rather the lack of consultation with the public.
“I think it should have been Canada-wide that people had input into this before it was disguised as a so-called budget with all of these other things stuck in the middle,” she said.