Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'Not what we want': Protesters slam Bill C-38

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More than 100 people upset about the federal government's omnibus budget bill marched, banged pots and pans, and handed out flyers Saturday.

The protesters, who started marching at the Magnus Eliason Community Centre on Langside Street at about 1:30 p.m., went through a street fair set up on Ellice Avenue before heading down Maryland Street on their way to Tory MP Joyce Bateman's office on Corydon Avenue.

The march and rally outside a federal MP's office joined about 75 others organized across the country.

Rally organizers hoped a total of more than a thousand people would be part of the country-wide protests.

March facilitator Alon Weinberg said the dozens of people at the rally -- and what he believes are thousands more not there because they were busy doing others things on a sunny warm Saturday -- are upset the Harper government has jammed changes to more than 70 laws into a 452-page budget bill.

"It's the total disrespect of democracy," Weinberg said.

"This is the first step towards tyranny."

Among other changes, Bill C-38 is overhauling fisheries and environmental protection laws, increasing the eligibility age for Old Age Security from 65 to 67, and making it harder for Canadians getting employment insurance to turn down work.

The budget bill has sparked protests across the country and led to a move by several organizations, including World Wildlife Fund Canada, Sierra Club Canada, and the David Suzuki Foundation, to come together under blackoutspeakout.ca and urge supporters to blackout their web site home pages on Monday.

Weinberg said the Winnipeg protest was also in solidarity with the student protesters in Quebec, who he credits with helping Canadians begin to realize what the budget changes mean.

"Canadians are asleep all the time, but they are starting to wake up and Quebec is galvanizing it."

One of the participants, who only wanted to be identified as Leah, said she's upset a budget bill will gut environmental protections.

"We're a nation that's supposed to have a say in things. This is not what we want."

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 3, 2012 A5

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