Right now Parliament is engaged in a “marathon” of votes over the Conservatives’ budget omnibus bill. The dreaded legislation is far more than a budget, it amends 70 different laws with a whole host of changes such as gutting environmental assessments and restricting access to Employment Insurance. Because it’s also a budget bill, MPs can’t vote it down without triggering another election, a very unpopular move, and therefore very unlikely. The process will also be rushed, as the Conservatives limited debate on the bill, the 26th time they’ve done this now, breaking the previous Liberal government’s record.  Liberals are also largely supportive of the bill, but New Democrats and sole Green member Elizabeth May are doing what they can to fight it.

Numerous protests have begun to break out across the country at Conservative constituency offices. Over 70 of them have been organized through the leadnow.ca network, which first became known for organizing “vote mobs” in 2011. This comes after a year in which dozens of constituency offices have been occupied so far by students, retires, unions and activists. There’s also been web campaigns, like one in which participating websites blacked out their backgrounds at once. Harper personally faced protests Monday in Montreal when he spoke at the International Economic Forum of the Americas, surrounded by bus-loads of riot police confronted by nothing more than peaceful hecklers. Today’s speech at the Forum by Alan Greenspan is also expected to be targeted by Montreal’s protesters.

Speaking to the elites of the financial world last Monday, Harper announced that we need not have to choose between austerity and prosperity. We can have both, he claimed, with the “Canadian model“. These remarks are a little perplexing – does he mean that we’re going to impose austerity measures even in times of prosperity? Or is he trying to salvage the now thoroughly discredited notion that prosperity comes from austerity measures? (Like they did in Greece and Spain?)  He also stated his support for the Spanish bank bailout, though he still takes a German-style hard line on any Canadian support for the faltering Eurozone. Whatever he means by all of this nonsense, there’s nothing clearly “Canadian” about it. His opinions might as well have been written by one of Angela Merkel’s staffers. The only thing substantially different about Canada is that we’re sittting on more natural resources than any other, save possibly Russia or Brazi. Harper’s plan for “prosperity”, ruthless exploitation of the Tar Sands, is a clear winner with this budget, which limits projects to a single assessment instead of the years of environmental assessments they now legally require. What else did we expect from Calgary-Centre’s MP?

On the local front, ADFA MP David Sweet’s constituency office saw a march of fifty people from downtown Dundas last Friday, joined by another 25 when they reached the strip mall housing his office, met by police, the property’s owner and a large “no tresspassing” sign. This followed a rally the previous Friday organized by leadnow.ca also outside Sweet’s office. They’re planning another action there this afternoon at 5:30, as well as a press conference at the old Dundas City Hall this Saturday to discuss further opposition. Also, another Casserole demonstration is planned for tonight, gathering at 8:00 in Gore Park.