Liberal MP's Kyoto bill passes, but faces
[PoliticsWatch updated 6:15 p.m., February 14, 2007]
OTTAWA — Opposition
MPs ganged up on the government and passed a private member's bill in the House of Commons
Wednesday evening that would compel the Canadian government to live
up to its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.
The bill passed by a margin of 161 to 113 over the objections
of the government.
However, whether the bill will ever come into effect is the
subject of much confusion and speculation on Parliament
The Liberals say the bill will become the "law of the
land," while the Conservatives are calling it
The private member's bill in question is from backbench Liberal MP Pablo
Bill C-288, An Act to ensure Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto Protocol,
compels the government to bring forward a climate change plan to
meet the Kyoto targets, within 60 days of the bill becoming
The Tories have twice attempted to have Speaker Peter Milliken
rule the bill out of order, arguing that the bill is a money bill
because meeting the Kyoto protocol targets would cost the government
money in the form of programs or purchasing greenhouse gas credits
from other countries. Only cabinet ministers can put forward bills
that call for the appropriation of funds.
But on Wednesday afternoon following question period, Milliken again
ruled that the bill was not a money bill and can proceed through
"In the case before us, the adoption of a bill calling on the
government to implement the Kyoto protocol, might place an
obligation on the government to take measures necessary to meet the
goals set out in the protocol, but the chair can't speculate what
those measures may be," Milliken concluded in his previous
rulings which he upheld on Wednesday.
"As it stands, Bill C-288 does not contain provisions which
specifically authorizes any spending for a distinct purpose relating
to the Kyoto protocol."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Environment Minister John
Baird have argued that Canada cannot meet its Kyoto targets
without purchasing foreign greenhouse gas credits or doing great
damage to Canada's economic growth.
As of 2004, Canada was 27 per cent above its 1990 targets. It is
supposed to be six per cent below 1990 levels come 2012.
Baird said the Speaker's ruling shows Rodriguez's bill is
"It says it doesn't require any money to be spent," he
told reporters after question period. "If we could implement
Kyoto without it costing a dime, I suspect we would have done it
back in 1997.
"I don't know if it passed how I would say to my department,
'How do we implement a bill with no money and no regulatory powers.'
So it's somewhat of a joke."
"This is like someone coming forward and saying you can have a
huge chocolate cake and it's got no calories. It's ridiculous. It's
But the Liberals do not think it's ridiculous. And if the
Conservative government ignores the bill, they argue, it will be
ignoring the will of Parliament.
The bill is expected to be passed by the Senate and receive Royal
Assent, but there is speculation in Ottawa that the government will
simply leave it in the final promulgation stage after that, even
though the wording of the bill calls for action within 60 days of
Rodriguez speculated that environmental groups could take the
government to court if the government sits on the bill after Royal
"There's a full list of environment organizations and lawyers
that would go to court tomorrow morning," he told reporters
after a Liberal caucus meeting.
Rodriguez said Harper cannot pick and choose which laws he can
"This is the law of the land and it's stronger (than the
protocol) and he's really forced to respect it."
As much as Rodriguez's bill is an attempt to commit the
Conservatives to Kyoto, it is also an effort to taint the government
as anti-Kyoto despite its recent attempts to appear green to
Canadian voters who now rank the environment as their No. 1
"The government has consistently voted against any forms of Kyoto
compliance," Liberal MP Michael Ignatieff said after
question period. " And that means they are simply not credible on the environment.
"You can't be credible. You can't come before the Canadian people and say we believe in green and this and that and the environment unless you make a serious commitment to honour our Kyoto obligations."
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