Hundreds of people made their way to Halifax’s Grand Parade to protest the Conservative omnibus budget bill on Wednesday night.
The protest was one of hundreds across Canada to try and convince 13 government MPs to vote against their own party’s budget implementation bill.
“We’re still hoping that maybe roughly 13 Conservative MPs will vote (to) express the will of their constituents,” said Meredith Calyden, a volunteer with the advocacy group Lead Now and one of the organizers of the protest.
“We want them to know that people across Canada do support them, and will support them if they stand up for democracy and vote against the bill.”
Bill C-38, the Conservative government’s budget implementation bill, has been panned by critics because it includes changes to a number of pieces of legislation that has little to do with the actual budget.
Sweeping changes to things like environment regulations and changes to Old Age Security have little to do with the actual budget, critics argue. The federal Conservatives have defended including so much in a budget bill because such measures are apparently required to grow the economy.
Opposition to the bill was dealt a blow on Tuesday when Speaker Andrew Scheer ruled in favour of Bill C-38, saying the common thread uniting the measures is the economy.
“Arcane” procedures of parliament aside, Dalhousie University professor Thomas Duck still hopes the government will reconsider.
“I think most reasonable people can agree that the elimination of environmental protections has no place in a budget bill,” said Duck, a physics professor who spoke at the protest.
“And yet here it’s part of this omnibus legislation even though it’s not a budget issue.”
MPs are expected to spend more than 24 hours in session to vote on between 67 and 159 individual votes on Bill C-38. Voting could continue as late as midnight on Friday.