Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I stand corrected

So much for my expectation that the Libs would at least want to be seen doing what they could to pass the NDP's Climate Change Accountability Act - a bill they'd supported multiple times before - in time for the Copenhagen summit. Instead, they're now making excuses to join with the Cons in stalling the bill, and thus ensuring that Canada won't have an expression of the majority of Parliament to take to the world:
Federal Liberals say they won't support the NDP in its effort to push a private member's climate-change bill through the House of Commons on Wednesday.

The proposed legislation, called Bill C-311, the climate change accountability act, sets strict targets for greenhouse gas emissions and is currently being considered by a House environment committee.

The committee has asked for an extension of 30 sitting days to review the bill, a request that will be considered Wednesday when the House sits.

But New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton said the delay would undermine efforts to have the bill passed into law before the Copenhagen summit in December.
The bill has passed through two readings in the House of Commons since it was introduced by NDP member of Parliament Bruce Hyer, receiving support from the Liberals and the Bloc Québécois.

Liberal environment critic David McGuinty, however, said the committee needs more time to study the implications of the bill.

"We need to hear more about the American position, the European position, the Chinese position" before considering the bill, McGuinty told CBC News.
Needless to say, that raises some serious questions for the Libs to answer. For example, why on earth did they pass the same bill before if there was any need for "more time to study (its) implications"? What do the Libs think we don't yet know about the positions of other parties at Copenhagen, and why haven't they been doing any work to find out? And even if it would be ideal to have more information before making efforts to pass the Climate Change Accountability Act, isn't it a worse trade-off to wait for that information in exchange for losing any ability to act on it through Parliament?

Mind you, matters only figure to get worse from there. Remember that the hold-up on previous incarnations of the bill has been the Senate's delay in passing legislation which had already received the approval of the House - with delay being the best the Cons could do at the time since they were in the minority in the Senate. But with Harper's patronage-fest on the verge of flipping control of the Senate, it won't be long before the Cons have the numbers to vote down any environmental bills entirely.

Which means that a vote to delay C-311 now may do more than just eliminate the prospect of the bill's passing before Copenhagen; instead, it may allow the Cons to bottle up any action on climate change until the Harper government is removed from power (and indeed beyond if Harper's senators stay loyal to him after the House changes hands). So now is indeed the time for a push to force the Libs to put up or shut up on climate change - and to permanently brand them as Harper's accomplices if they choose to make sure nothing gets done.

Update: Devin has the definitive commentary on what the Libs' vote means.

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