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Group protests as Parliament votes on Bill C-38

Gather outside of the office of MP Randy Hoback
Reported by Sarah Stone
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MP Randy Hoback received another 60 person visit at his home office in Prince Albert Wednesday night.

“As we are here right now they are in Ottawa debating bits and pieces of the Omnibus Bill that we wanted them to separate into sizable pieces and have all the important ones debated in parliament,” said Rick Sawa with the Council of Canadians.

“We’re here to say we don’t agree with that, that there are so many things in that budget that are non-budgetary; there’s over 70 items that they’re going to sneak through without any debate. We’re here today to say we don’t want that kind of Canada.”

Keri Okanik, a protester at the event said it’s important that the citizens of Canada and the community of Prince Albert are aware of what’s happening in Parliament.

“I have a huge issue with a number of things involved in the Bill,” Okanik said listing changes to EI, wages for seasonal workers, and old age security.

“It makes a difference to the people living the in the community to see that this is something that not’s supported, it raises awareness and if raising awareness about what’s happening is the biggest difference we can make than that’s a positive thing.”

This is the second time a group has gathered to protest the Omnibus Budget Bill C-38 in less than two weeks and Sawa said Hoback has yet to make an appearance.

“This is the fourth time we’ve tried to engage Mr. Hoback. We asked him to a debate that he did not come to. We were here for the Crime Omnibus Bill and now we’ve been here twice and we feel he should be answering our questions. We’re his constituents whether we vote for him or not. His job is to represent all of us and we don’t think that he is willing to listen to us,” Sawa said.

This protest is one of 80 others happening throughout Canada and he said each small voice can be the difference, quoting Canadian icon Wayne Gretzky.

“If you don’t shoot, you won’t score,” he said. “So, if we stop complaining about the way things are, those in power will say ‘well everybody must agree with us’ so we’re here to say ‘we don’t agree.’”

Hoback was in Parliament during the protest and could not be reached for comment, but in a previous response he issued he said the Council of Canada disagrees with everything the Conservative Party puts fourth.

“The Council in fact, has become nothing more than a mouthpiece of those who advocate against all of the policies undertaken by the Conservative Government,” Hoback wrote.

In response, Sawa said it’s simple name calling.

“We’re very concerned about democracy and that’s what we’re all about. He can call us names all he wants and say that we’re NDP. We’ve criticized the NDP, we’ve criticized the Liberals. We criticize anybody that does things that’s very undemocratic and so he says ‘well they just hate conservatives and that’s why they’re here. No matter what we do they’ll be here’ well that’s not true,” Sawa explained.

In addition to their signs condemning Bill C-38, the group of protesters were also banging pots and and pans.

Sawa said this was to show support the students and people in Quebec who are fighting Bill-78, which constricts their right to protest, which is another challenge of democracy, he said.

“It’s all about democracy.”

Parliament starting the voting process for Bill C-38 last night and it will continue into much of today.

sstone@panow.com