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Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Afternoon Rant: Bill C-311

Well, it's just over one week until the start of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun. So what has Canada's ruling party done to prepare for this high profile international discussion on greenhouse gas emissions?

Did they:

A. make an appeal to other industrialized nations to support a binding agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions?
B. pledge to support green energy projects to provide electricity in impoverished regions of Africa?
C. use underhanded tactics to defeat their country's only meaningful piece of climate legislation?
If you have followed the news over the past week, you will know that the answer is C, as in Bill C-311, also known as the Climate Accountability Act. The act would have seen greenhouse gas emissions reduced 25% below 1990 levels by 2020, while setting a long-term target to cut emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Bill C-311 is just the kind of legislation the upcoming conference in Cancun is hoped to produce, it has been four years in the making and has passes two separate readings in the House of Commons. And now it is dead, struck down in the prime of it's life by a narrow margin in an unannounced vote at a session where a considerable number of senators were absent.
I would love to dive into the undemocratic and blatantly partisan nature of this defeat, but Nathan Barker has  quite eloquently beat me to it in his post for DeSmogBlog. In a nutshell, Prime Minister Harper has subverted a process that was supported by the majority of parliamentarians and the Canadian public. This is especially troubling in light of a recent poll that suggests the majority of Canadians not only accept climate change as a fact, but feel that more punitive measures should be put in place to reduce emissions.
Some are calling for senate reform in the wake of the bill's defeat, but the greater issue to me is the fact that Harper's government will be representing Canada at upcoming conference in Mexico. It is incumbent then upon individual Canadians to make it clear that we do not buy the conservative arguments of short-term financial gains at the expense of long-term climate stability nor that international cooperation means agreeing to the lowest common standard.

The good people at the David Suzuki Foundation have put together a letter which can be easily emailed to your MP and party leaders. After the events of the past week, it is clearer than ever that the future of the climate (and by extension, the ocean) is in your hands!

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