Speech from Budget Bill Rally in Ottawa

Frances Deverell Rev. Frances Deverell is the president of the Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice (CUSJ).

On Saturday, June 2, she joined the Leadnow protest in Ottawa outside Conservative Minister John Baird’s office and delivered a rousing speech to a crowd of over 100.

  

 

C-38 – Anti Democracy, Anti-Environment, Anti Economic Justice

A big thank you to Lead Now for organizing this rally and to Anita Grace for stepping up to be the local contact on the ground. And thank you so much for inviting me to speak on behalf of the Canadian Unitarians For Social Justice. Thanks to all the Unitarians and all the rest of you who came here today to stand in the rain and protest this terrible budget bill. Shall we take a page out of the Occupy Movement and try the human microphone? Yes?

Frances Deverell

Rev. Frances Deverell addressing the June 2 rally in Ottawa.

Mic check. Mic check.
I didn’t want to come out here and stand in the rain for a protest!  Did you?
I came because my heart is broken. This budget bill is a terrible bill for Canada.
I came to stand on guard for Canada.
As a Unitarian minister I want to hold up 3 principles I hold sacred.

The first is democracy. I object to the process of C-38.
An omnibus bill hides the facts. An omnibus bill suppresses debate.
We pay MP’s to examine the details give close scrutiny debate and LISTEN!
Closure gives no time for this.
In a democracy government regulates industry for the benefit of the common good.
This budget fires scientists who study Canada and produce knowledge.
This budget fires librarians, archivists, and statisticians who organize and store and make meaning of knowledge, and who keep our history. It doesn’t want to make decisions or set policy based on knowledge. It doesn’t value who we are.
This budget fires inspectors in all areas. When government abrogates its responsibilitiy of oversight it leaves the fox in charge of the chicken coop. We have more Walkerton’s, Food poisoning, Enbridge leaky pipelines,  and Gulf oil spills.

The second is the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
I believe the earth, the air, the water are sacred.
I believe all species have a right to a place to live.
Gigantic scale mining produces industrialized landscapes that wipe out all life in their path. This trend must stop. It is a false economy.
We must change our ways to live in harmony with the natural world that sustains us and gives us life.
Mr. Harper and Mr. Baird are dismantling our environmental protection, to promote fast tar sands growth. The want to ignore their obligations to consult with First Nations who live and die eating polluted wildlife.
They care nothing for the needs, and well being, of future generations.
This bill changes the face of Canada without even a debate for the sake of greed and profit. This government was elected by 39% of the vote but it wields 100% of the power and gives 61% no respect. One minister can make and change rules with no consultation. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Why are they afraid to talk? Why are they afraid to listen?

Third: I hold justice, equity, and compassion sacred.
Where in this budget do we care for the homeless? Where in this budget do we care for the hungry? Instead, funding for medicare and education is threatened. Our pensions are under attack.
For the first time our children will have less security and well being than we have had. The social safety net that my parent’s generation set up is being dismantled piece by piece.
I stand here today in the rain to stand on guard of Canada.
I call on this government to slow down, slow down, slow down.
Break up this bill. Give us a national debate about the kind of Canada we want.
We want democracy.
We want environmental protection.
We want government oversight of industry.
We want respect and consultation with First Nations.
We want equity and a fair chance for all people and all life.

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Bill C-38: Nobody voted for this

Protesting Bill C-38

People rallied in Ottawa to protest Bill C-38

Across Canada today, people gathered at the offices of their local Conservative MPs, looking for 13 ‘hero MPs’ who will vote against the omnibus budget bill.

Bill C-38, the 425-page budget bill, contains an unprecedented number of legislative changes. Major changes included in this bill are:

  • Tightening up tax penalties for NGO advocacy
  • Repealing the Environmental Assessment Act and replacing it with a whole new Act.
  • Restricting the length of pipeline environmental assessments.
  • Repealing Canada’s Kyoto commitment.
  • Extending the age at which Canadians will be eligible for old age pensions.
  • Removing the Office of the Inspector General, responsible for CSIS oversight.
  • Eliminating the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development.
  • Eliminating the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.
  • Eliminating the First Nations Statistical Institute.
  • Eliminating the National Council on Welfare.

Here in Ottawa, on behalf of LeadNow, I organized a protest outside the office of Conservative MP John Baird. I was amazed and humbled by the turn-out – probably 120 came out – despite cool weather and threatening rain clouds. We raised our voices in solidarity, telling our government that we are watching and we are deeply concerned.

Protesting Bill C-38

Conservative Budget Anti-Democratic

I brought a long sheet of paper on which people were encouraged to write messages to John Baird (the paper will be delivered to his office this week). Some of the words written there include:

“I don’t feel at home in Canada anymore.”

“Mr. Baird, Canadians care about clean air and water. We do not support the changes in Bill C-38.”

“What about my future?”

“Bill C-38 is pushing me into poverty. You promised to protect me and all seniors.”

“Bill C-38 will affect my life forever.”

“For democracy’s sake, stop this bill.”

One of the things I heard repeatedly from people at today’s rally was that this was the first time they had participated in a protest, but they felt compelled to come out.

“We will not be silent,” said Rev. Frances Deverell of the Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice and the crowd shouted back, “We will not be silent.” Silence is not an option when democracy and our environment are so threatened.

A movement is growing across Canada – and today, it was thrilling to be a part of it.

For more information on Bill C-38, please see the attached pdf which was prepared and shared by Patricia, one of those attending today’s rally. I would also encourage you to check out Black Out Speak Out.

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