Evasive Conservatives and Gutless Liberals

Canada’s Prime Minster Stephen Harper received a diplomatic shot across-the-bow from Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon regarding climate change. In the Globe and Mail article Mexico ‘cannot wait’ to follow US lead on climate change, Calderon is quoted as saying:

In Mexico, we cannot wait. We cannot wait for the developed countries to make a decision. . . Some of them, like the U.S., could take another eternity to decide on what they had decided since the Kyoto Protocol. . . We know that the quality of life, and the future, is at risk. And I mean the future of a great deal of humanity.

Harper, of course, continued to sit on the fence and deflect his lack of action to the US. But the reality is that, with Harper’s firm background in mainstream economics and climate change denial leanings, he is looking for any excuse to do nothing.

So what is the Canadian government doing to reduce climate change emissions and protect its environment? Currently, the “omnibus” bill C-9 is before parliament and it seeks to “reform” the Environmental Assessment Act. It actually seeks to reform all kinds of stuff, that is why it is called an omnibus bill. Governments hide all kinds of legislation in these bills and hopes no-one will look. There are a number of organizations that have issues with this reform and, as you can imagine, many of them are environmental groups. While searching the net for information on this part of the bill, I came across a nice summary on Globe-net.com. In their article Proposed amendments to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, they contrast the proposed changes to a recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling based on the current Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA). The case was between MiningWatch Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the ruling was in favour of MiningWatch.  What Globe-Net highlights is that the CEAA reform in Bill C-9 serves to “fix” all of the aspect of the Acts where the Federal Government lost this case. Here is one of the proposed amendments:

15.1(1) Despite section 15, the Minister may, if the conditions that the Minister establishes are met, determine that the scope of the project in relation to which an environmental assessment is to be conducted is limited to one or more components of that project.

So, by being able to change the scope of the assessment, the ministry is free to pick only certain areas of the project and can then say that an environmental assessment was completed. In addition, if the project in question is a large energy project, the CEAA will no longer be responsible for the assessment. Guess who will be? Either the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission or the National Energy Board, depending on who’s project it is. So much for independent oversight!

The first reading of this bill has already passed–143 to 120. Who voted yes? From the stats posted on Openparliment.ca, only the Conservatives. The Bloc all voted No. The NDP all voted No and three didn’t vote. It was the gutless Liberals that, through their fence sitting allowed this bill to pass. What I mean by fence sitting is that 42 Liberals voted No, and 35 DID NOT VOTE! Of course, we know the reasons that the Liberals did this. It is because “Canadians don’t want an election”. I am really sick of this response. The Liberals are letting a minority government push through legislation that the majority don’t want, but they don’t want to make a fuss about it. How Canadian, eh?

So, before this becomes too much of a rant, I’ll cover the climate change aspect of things.  The most recent bill before Parliament covering this topic was Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act. It was defeated in its 3rd reading 149 to 136. Every Conservative member voted against it. What are you going to do then?? Write to Michael Ignatieff and tell him to grow some cajones and tell him your thoughts on environmental protection and climate change. Follow up with letters to you local MP’s and Stephen Harper and tell them what you think.