One day before June’s second protest in front of his Sechelt constituency office, Conservative MP John Weston said his party could have done a better job of selling budget implementation Bill C-38 to Canadians.
“Let me join in the criticism of our own government to say the communication of many parts of this has been poor. That relates to the, I think, the ambitious nature of the bill,” the West Vancouver - Sunshine Coast - Sea to Sky member said in an interview Tuesday (June 12).
As members of Parliament began a marathon session to consider hundreds of opposition amendments, similar protests were reported across the country on Wednesday (June 13).
Those among the Sechelt group called for Weston to oppose the omnibus package and join opposition demands for the legislation’s division.
As C-38 is in essence a budget bill, its defeat would risk bringing down the government.
“It’s a travesty,” one protestor said. “They’re trying to pass a budget that makes major, major changes to the Canada we know.”
“It’s anti-democratic,” said another.
Bill C-38 is coming before the House of Commons on Monday (June 18) for third and final reading.
Weston was clear in his support for C-38. He described it as a package that will benefit Canadians both nationally and in his riding. The MP had shown a particular interest in environmental and fisheries legislation.
As a politician, Weston said he could imagine lines he would not cross to support a government, and as for C-38, “this is not even close.
“You would be letting down people who voted you in and not necessarily on your own credentials, but on the party and the party platform that was proposed during the campaign. So there’s no contemplation of my voting against this,” he said.
Bill C-38 was tabled in the House of Commons on March 29. By the middle of May, it had been given second reading and a referral to the Standing Committee on Finance.
This week the report stage began in the House, opening the legislation to a flood of amendments.
Like members of the public, Weston did not have a chance to study the confidential budget bill when it was in draft form.
“Ministers don’t even share their proposed deficit reduction approaches with other ministers until the whole thing is finally approved,” explained Weston. “I’ve gone through many pieces of it many times and other pieces of it not so many times, but the ones that I’m most sensitive to are the ones our constituents most care about.”
The protestors who gathered in front of his Sechelt constituency office Wednesday took issue with the government’s approach in making what they called “the most sweeping set of legislative changes in Canadian parliamentary history.”
The rally in Sechelt was part of a wider campaign across the country organized by Leadnow.ca.
Leadnow claimed that June 2’s “Black-mark” days of action saw as many as 107 events and perhaps 3,000 participants.
“I think we would be foolish to consider something as irresponsible as bringing down the government over a budget that’s intended, among other things, to continue stimulating the economy,” Weston said.