Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Limited progress

CanWest reports that the federal Libs may finally be coming around to the need for absolute greenhouse gas emission caps:
The Liberal party is preparing to turn up the heat on the Harper government by endorsing absolute reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions by industrial polluters, CanWest News Service has learned.

Senior Liberals hope the move will restore the shine to the environmental reputation of Liberal Leader Stephane Dion and differentiate the party on a key election issue from the Conservatives, who have proposed less stringent "intensity-based" targets to reduce pollution linked to global warming.

An announcement of the Liberal position could come as early as Friday, when Dion will deliver a speech in Ottawa revealing part of his new environment policy.
Of course, there will still be one serious question facing the Libs even if they do indeed make the change in their platform. Namely, will they actually work to implement such hard caps in the near future (which could easily be done through the agreement of the opposition parties in reviewing Bill C-30), or will this instead be added to the pile of issues where the Libs' best-case scenario is to spend the next year whining about the Cons' failure to get anything done?

And unfortunately, the Libs' willingness to get something done now is very much open to question, particularly based on the reported timing of the announcement:
NDP environment critic Nathan Cullen was skeptical, noting that no party has submitted amendments to the committee studying the government's proposed legislation on climate change and air pollution, even though they agreed to do so by Thursday.

"The heavy lifting will start straight away, and I'll be putting calls in to the other opposition parties," said Cullen. "There's been almost no dialogue from them, with a deadline of this Thursday, five o'clock, when you have to have all your amendments in."
It would be curious indeed for the Libs to submit the substance of a plan in their proposed amendments for a Thursday deadline, then try to make another announcement of that plan the next day after its details were already publicly known. Which suggests all too strongly that the Libs' current strategy is instead to contribute nothing to the committee, then use Friday's announcement to grandstand about how little is currently getting done.

Of course, I'll grant the Libs full credit if they defy my expectations and actually propose amendments to match their apparent shift in position. But it seems all too likely that even if the Libs have changed their policy stance for the better, they'll still be looking for excuses to avoid implementing that policy to serve their political interests. And that can only make them complicit in any failure by the Cons to put effective emission limits in place.

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