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:: PoliticsWatch Legislative Update

Will the Tories boldly go against Kyoto? 

[PoliticsWatch Updated 4:45 p.m. February 16, 2007]

 

OTTAWA —  The three opposition parties crossed the point of no return this week and have possibly given Prime Minister Stephen Harper a wedge issue for the coming election campaign.  

By a vote of 161 to 113 the Liberals, NDP and Bloc all voted in favour of a private member's bill from Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez compelling the government to produce a plan in 60 days to commit Canada to its Kyoto targets. 

The government had fought hard against this bill, arguing that reaching the targets are unrealistic and that it committed the government to spending money.  

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. 

The opposition parties have tried to paint the Tories as mean-spirited, climate-change deniers for rejecting the Kyoto targets. 

"You can't be credible," Liberal MP Michael Ignatieff told reporters this week. "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."

However, the three parties, especially the Liberals, now appear to be creating a huge credibility gap with the media and the public on this issue. 

On Friday, a Globe and Mail editorial took Liberal Leader Stephane Dion and the Liberals to task for focusing some much attention on meeting the Kyoto targets, calling it "economic and political folly."

And Toronto Star columnist Chantal Hebert wrote, "By backing Kyoto to the hilt, Dion may have tilted the balance of credibility to Harper's advantage."

The conventional thinking around Ottawa is that the Tories want to merely neutralize the environment as an election issue by making a number of announcements and cutting a deal with the NDP on a tougher Clean Air Act. 

However, as more and more mainstream opinion leaders recognize the bill of goods being sold by the Liberals, there remains the risky possibility that the Tories could turn the next campaign into a referendum on the Kyoto Accord and the possible negative economic impact of Canada meeting its targets. 

Not even Dion can deny that a great deal of economic dislocation will come as a result of Canada dramatically reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.  

But the Liberal leader sees this as an opportunity for Canada to lead the way in creating what he believes will the 21st century economy grounded sustainable development and new technologies. 

Dion's theory goes that for every job lost in, say, the oil patch or the local assembly line, there will be plenty more new jobs at, say, the local wind turbine factory. 

That sounds great, but tell that to the people who could lose their jobs at the manufacturing plant. And what if there are no wind turbine facilities in their towns? And if you are lucky and do get a job at the wind turbine factory will it pay as much as your unionized job at a carbon emitting assembly plant? 

Dion and the Liberals are selling the idea that Canada can lose megatonnes and still make megabucks.  

But hard questions are beginning to asked about that. 

Canadian Auto Workers president Buzz Hargrove last week told the National Post that meeting the 2012 Kyoto target would be "suicidal for our economy."

And Tory MPs gave a number of environmentalists who appeared before the special committee examining the Clean Air Act a rough ride on Thursday. 

"There's potential for a lot of dislocation," said Tory MP Jeff Watson, who represents the auto producing city of Windsor.  

Watson then went on to list a litany of potential problems Kyoto could create that sounded like a Liberal attack ad from the last two elections. 

"Job loss, anxiety, depression, bankruptcy, domestic violence, cost to employment insurance for retraining, loss of charitable dollars in communities for people who used to have high-paying jobs but don't any more, rare instances of suicide."

When one of the environmentalists rejected Watson's claim that Kyoto equals "economic collapse," Watson shot back that he didn't say economic collapse. 

"It means real dislocation for real people," Watson firmly said. 

And that's bottom line. 

Meeting the Kyoto targets is a dream, an ideal, a theory. But none of the opposition parties who are pressing the government to meet these targets are speaking about how it will impact individuals. 

But does the prime minister dare run against the sacred cow of Kyoto?

Just three weeks ago, the Vancouver Sun published a poll of 2,938 Canadian adults by the Innovative Research Group on Kyoto. 

Here are the results

Which statement do you agree with?

Canada must do its part to fight global warming, and implementing the Kyoto
Accord is the best way to do it --  31%

Canada must do its part to fight global warming, but implementing the Kyoto
Accord is just one way we can do it -- 59%

I’m not convinced anything needs to be done on climate change -- 6%

Don’t know -- 4%

In other words, just 31 per cent of Canadians agree with the three opposition parties' strong belief in Kyoto. 

If the prime minister wants to have an election where he can appeal to the other 69 per cent of public opinion that does not see Kyoto as the be all and end all then Pablo Rodriguez may have unwittingly this week handed the prime minister the wedge issue he needs for the next campaign. 


The Legislative Update is posted every Friday afternoon when the House is sitting. To stay informed on all the political events read PoliticsWatch's  Morning Briefing updated at 9:30 a.m. ET Monday to Friday and the Daily Agenda updated at 6:00 p.m. ET Monday to Friday.
  
______________

The House will deal with the following bills next week

Monday and Wednesday

Bill C-31, voter integrity
Bill C-44, human rights
Bill C-11, transport
Bill C-33, technical income tax
Bill S-2, hazardous materials

Tuesday and Thursday

Opposition Days

Friday

Bill C-45, An Act respecting the sustainable development of Canada's seacoast and inland fisheries.

____________________

Committee Highlights

Monday

> Industry Minister Maxime Bernier appears before the industry committee to discuss the deregulation of the telecommunications industry. 

> Immigration Minister Diane Finley appears before the immigration committee. 

Tuesday

Michael Cleland, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Gas Association and Gordon Lambert, Vice-President Sustainable Development for Suncor Energy Inc. discuss the oil sands before the special legislative committee examining the Clean Air Act. 

> Public Works Minister Michael Fortier appears before the defence committee, which is examining military procurement procedures. 


> Full Schedule


____________________

Bills the Tories have tabled in this Parliament 

C-2 An Act providing for conflict of interest rules, restrictions on election financing and measures respecting administrative transparency, oversight and accountability

Status: Royal Assent December 12

This is better known the Federal Accountability Act, which a number of new measures and a massive list of amendments to current laws aimed at cleaning up government. The bill is the government's No. 1 priority.

C-3 An Act respecting international bridges and tunnels and making a consequential amendment to another Act

Status: Royal Assent February 1, 2007

C-4 An Act to amend An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act

Status: Royal Assent May 11

C-5 An Act respecting the establishment of the Public Health Agency of Canada and amending certain Acts

Status: Royal Assent December 12

C-6 An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Status: Referred to transport committee November 7

C-7 An Act to amend the National Defence Act

Status: Introduced April 27

C-8 An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2007

Status: Royal Assent May 11

C-9 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conditional sentence of imprisonment)

Status: Passed in the House November 3

C-10 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (minimum penalties for offences involving firearms) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act

Status: Referred to justice committee June 13

C-11 An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and the Railway Safety Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Status: Report stage February 6, 2007

C-12 An Act to provide for emergency management and to amend and repeal certain Acts

Status: Passed in the House December 11

C-13 An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on May 2, 2006

Status: Royal Assent June 22

This is the budget implementation bill. The bill was accidentally given unanimous consent in the House on third reading when none of the opposition parties objected after confusion over who would speak to the bill.

C-14 An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (adoption)

Status: Referred to citizenship and immigration committee June 13

This bill makes it easier for parents to obtain citizenship for children they adopt from overseas.

C-15 An Act to amend the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act

Status: Royal Assent June 22

C-16 An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act

Status: Passed in the House November 6

C-17 An Act to amend the Judges Act and certain other Acts in relation to courts

Status: Royal Assent December 14

This bill sets salaries for federally-appointed judges at a lower rate than that recommended by an independent panel. The panel wanted 10.8 per cent increase plus cost of living. The government is offering 7.25 per cent in the bill plus cost of living.

C-18 An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to DNA identification

Status: Sent to justice committee October 4

C-19 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (street racing) and to make a consequential amendment to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act

Status: Royal Assent December 14

This bill toughens punitive measures against convicted street racers. 

C-20 An Act respecting airports, airport authorities and other airport operators and amending the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act

Status: Introduced June 15

C-21 An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act (non-registration of firearms that are neither prohibited nor restricted)

Status: Introduced June 19

This bill we effectively kill the long-arm registry.

C-22 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (age of protection) and to make consequential amendments to the Criminal Records Act

Status: Referred to justice committee October 30

C-23 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal procedure, language of the accused, sentencing and other amendments)

Status: Referred to the Justice committee October 16

C-24 An Act to impose a charge on the export of certain softwood lumber products to the United States and a charge on refunds of certain duty deposits paid to the United States, to authorize certain payments, to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and to amend other Acts as a consequence

Status:
Royal Assent December 14

This is the implementation legislation for the softwood lumber deal with the U.S. 

C-25 An Act to amend the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act and the Income Tax Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act

Status:
Royal Assent December 14

This bill toughens money laundering and terror financing laws and would give the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada the power to monitor money wiring and travellers cheques services. 

C-26 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal interest rate)

Status:
Passed in the House February 6, 2007


C-27 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (dangerous offenders and recognizance to keep the peace)

Status:
Second reading, February 14, 2007

This bill places the onus on three time sexual and violent offenders to prove to the Crown they are not deserving of dangerous offender status.

C-28 A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on May 2, 2006 

Status:
Passed in Senate, February 14, 2007


C-29 An Act to amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act 

Status:
Introduced October 18


C-30 An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, the Energy Efficiency Act and the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act (Canada's Clean Air Act) 

Status:
Referred to special legislative committee December 4; Tory MP Laurie Hawn appointed committee chair December 12

All three opposition parties say they will vote against the government's main plank of its Green Plan.  

C-31 An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Public Service Employment Act

Status:
Third Reading, February 12, 2007

This bill will require voters to present photo ID at polling stations. 

C-32 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (impaired driving) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Status:
Referred to the justice committee February 6, 2007

This bill will impose penalties for those convicted of driving under the influence of drugs 

C-33 An Act to amend the Income Tax Act, including amendments in relation to foreign investment entities and non-resident trusts, and to provide for the bijural expression of the provisions of that Act 

Status:
Introduced November 22


C-34 An Act to provide for jurisdiction over education on First Nation lands in British Columbia

Status:
Royal Assent December 12


C-35 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (reverse onus in bail hearings for firearm-related offences) 

Status:
Second reading February 13, 2007

This bill requires those charged with gun crimes prove why they should be granted bail before trial.

C-36 An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan and the Old Age Security Act 

Status:
Referred to Human Resources committee January 30, 2007


C-37 An Act to amend the law governing financial institutions and to provide for related and consequential matters

Status:
Referred to finance committee December 7

This bill, among other things, lowers the legal minimum mortgage downpayment consumers have to make on a home.

C-38 An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2007 (Appropriation Act No. 2, 2006-2007) 

Status:
Royal Assent December 12

Main estimates

C-39 An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2007 (Appropriation Act No. 3, 2006-2007)

Status:
Royal Assent December 12

Supplementary estimates

C-40 An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act, the Excise Act, 2001 and the Air Travellers Security Charge Act and to make related amendments to other Acts 

Status:
Referred to finance committee, January 30, 2007

C-41 An Act to amend the Competition Act 

Status:
Introduced December 7

C-42 An Act to amend the Quarantine Act 

Status:
Introduced December 12

C-43 An Act to provide for consultations with electors on their preferences for appointments to the Senate

Status:
Introduced December 13

This bill will allow for Elections Canada to hold votes to select candidates to fill Senate vacancies in province-wide races.

C-44 An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act

Status:
Second Reading February 7, 2007

This law will remove a controversial section of the act that provides an exemption for aboriginal Canadians. 

C-45 An Act respecting the sustainable development of Canada's seacoast and inland fisheries

Status:
Introduced December 13

: Related Links

> Check out last week's legislative update

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