Local MP criticizes Fed plans to 'gut' Fisheries Act
MP Alex Atamanenko (BC Southern Interior) said the Conservative’s plan to make changes to the Fisheries Act in an omnibus federal budget bill next week has been exposed and the federal government needs to come clean on its agenda.
A former DFO employee Otto Langer leaked documents last week that shone a light on government plans to strip the Fisheries Act of habitat protection provisions.
“In the current climate of the Enbridge pipeline, increased mining proposals and private power projects on BC rivers, these proposed changes to fish habitat protection make you wonder just what interests are they choosing to protect?,” said Atamanenko.
“I find it very interesting that two former Progressive Conservative cabinet ministers have lashed out at the federal government as ‘foolish’, saying the Harper government has ‘very, very limited understanding, intelligence or wisdom’ on this subject,” Atamanenko added.
“As they put it, you can’t protect fish if you don’t protect their habitat,” he said.
Federal NDP Fisheries Critic Finn Donnelly first challenged the government over the leaked documents on March 13 in the House of Commons, pressing the government to admit whether they were planning to make changes to the legislation.
Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield said they were looking at policies and there had been no decisions made, but issued a statement on March 16 saying “The government has been clear that the existing policies do not reflect the priorities of Canadians.” This week Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver said the Fisheries Act was “one of the most frequent triggers” to environmental assessments, calling this a “huge disincentive to investment”.
“It makes you think that they have only been listening to corporate lobbyists,” said Atamanenko, echoing the very conclusion stated this week by former Conservative Cabinet Minister John Fraser. “I fear this proposed change could be rolled into another Omnibus federal budget bill next week, which will once again bury other significant policy changes that have no place in a budget debate,” said Atamanenko.
“People need to speak up quickly to make sure fish habitat protection remains federal law,” said Atamanenko.
Constituents can email:
· The Honourable Keith Ashfield (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans) email@example.com
· Fin Donnelly (Federal NDP Critic, Fisheries and Oceans) firstname.lastname@example.org
· Prime Minister Stephen Harper email@example.com
with a copy to:
· Alex Atamanenko, MP, BC Southern Interior firstname.lastname@example.org
or write to them c/o House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6, postage free.
As well, there are several petitions against the changes. Go to:
“We all need to speak out against this ill-informed proposal. The future of our rivers, lakes and streams is at stake.”
To see Ex-DFO staffer Otto Langer’s press release and the leaked legislative proposal, go to:
and go to http://www.findonnelly.ca/node/418for more information.
This article is a press release from Alex Atamanenko’s office.