Monday, April 23, 2007

Conservative vs. consensus

The CP reports that John Baird has told environmental groups that his government doesn't plan to do anything to try to move the amended Bill C-30 (the climate change bill) through Parliament. But it's worth pointing out that Baird is again trying to frame the issue as one solely between the Libs and the Cons - and that any opposition party wanting to actually pressure the Cons to act on the bill should be quick to correct the record:
Environmentalists say Environment Minister John Baird told them in a private meeting that he will abandon the bill because he can't accept sweeping amendments put forward by the opposition.

The clean air act was the centrepiece of the Conservative environmental agenda but the opposition parties drastically changed it during committee study to incorporate the targets of the Kyoto Protocol.

In Friday's meeting, Baird reportedly described the rewritten legislation as a Liberal bill and said he would never bring it forward, said John Bennett of ClimateforChange.
Now, there's every reason why the Cons would want to claim that the amendments were merely a Lib creation - both to help them pretend the amended bill has less support than it does, and to allow them to frame the issue in terms of perceived Lib weaknesses rather than the content of the legislation itself.

But Baird's attempt to portray the other side as consisting of the Libs alone, like so many of the Cons' claims, simply doesn't stand up to reality.

All three opposition parties - who of course represent far more combined votes and seats than the Cons - contributed to the final bill both by offering amendments, and by teaming up to provide the votes necessary to adopt those amendments over the Cons' protestations. For good measure, the Greens endorsed the final product as well. And based on yesterday's Earth Day rallies, it's clear that a good chunk of the Canadian public is also voicing a direct demand for the kind of real action toward Kyoto that the amended bill represents - rather than still more attempts by the Cons to pass off intensity targets as progress.

In other words, the amended C-30 is far more than just a "Liberal bill". And it's by calling attention to the fact that it's the Cons who are alone and isolated in their stubborn refusal to act on C-30 that other parties (and the environmental movement generally) have their best chance of getting a real climate change plan put in place in the foreseeable future.

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