Canada's only federal Climate Change Bill was killed on Tuesday, leaving the country without a single climate change law, and no plan at all.
The Climate Change and Accountability Act (C-311) was voted down in the Canadian Senate in a surprise maneuver by the conservative Harper government. No debate was held. In fact there was no consideration of the bill at all despite the bill sitting in the Senate for 193 days before Harper's unelected Senate quashed the action. The House of Commons had already passed the bill twice.
But according to the bill's sponsor, MP Bruce Hyer (New Democratic Deputy Environment Critic and Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay -- Superior North), "Conservative Senators had been ordered not to debate the bill since the time it arrived in the Senate, May 6. Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's hypocrisy was breathtaking."
New Democratic Leader Jack Layton was just as emphatic. "What we have witnessed here is unprecedented. The Prime Minister has lost his moral center! This vital legislation was passed by the majority of democratically elected MPs in the House, representing two-thirds of Canadians. What Harper has done tonight is not only an assault on Canadian democracy, but the worst type of head in the tar-sands negligence toward our future health and prosperity as a nation."
PM Harper defended himself, calling the bill irresponsible in fearing that it would hurt Canada's economy and possibly throw "millions" out of work. Still Harper clearly had instructed his deputies not to even debate on the bill in the Senate.
According to its sponsor, MP Hyer, the bill was ground breaking, though hardly controversial. It would ensure that Canada meet its global climate change obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Science based, it would require the Canadian government to bring greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The bill would establish a long term target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2025. To meet these goals and beyond, it establishes interim targets between 2015 and 2045, setting periodic review, measurements and reporting.
These emission targets, based on the minimum recommendations of the IPCC (United Nations International Panel on Climate Change) are the same as those adopted by the European Union. They are also the announced objectives set forth in President Obama's "New Energy for America" strategy.
C-311 would have provided the Post-Kyoto Protocol world's first mandated hard emission reductions to be passed by a democratically elected parliament. Unfortunately, the conservatives led by Canadian Prime Minister Harper sabotaged these efforts. Undaunted, progressive MPs Hyer and Layton and Canadian Sierra Club Executive Director John Bennet pledged to continue until Canada passed landmark climate change legislation.