Megan Leslie

Megan Leslie, environment critic and deputy leader of the New Democratic Party: excerpt from interview with Christopher Majka, Hurricane Leslie: We’re going to be all right, September 12, 2012

What we need to remember [about Bill C-38] is that this was an attack upon democracy. Bill C-38 was a pipeline budget. If you could think of any barrier to putting in a pipeline as quickly as possible, that barrier has been eliminated. You don’t want science to get in the way, so you make cuts to Environment Canada. You don’t want evidence to get in the way, so you axe the National Roundtable on the Environment and Economy. You don’t want democratic participation to get in the way, so you limit who can testify at the hearings. You don’t want regulatory oversight, so you gut habitat protection in the Fisheries Act. You repeal the entire Environmental Assessment process — not tinker or tweak — repeal the whole Act. You don’t want dissent, so you find $8 million to go after environmental charities. You don’t want pesky rivers and streams to get in the way, so you declare that a pipeline is no longer a “work” under the environmental assessment process. And just in case you missed something, you give final decision-making power to the cabinet. …

We need to focus our efforts. This is how Stephen Harper wins: he divides us. Environmentalists worry about changes to fish habitat; health care activists worry about transfer payment changes. It separates us into these little camps. But the narrative that’s missing is the narrative that pieces all that together, that talks about the attack on democracy. All these changes were put in one budget bill for a reason, and that reason is anti-democratic. It was about not getting public feedback, not engaging in proper consultation, and not having real, honest debate in the House of Commons. It was about trying to pull a fast one on us.