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Will the Conservatives illegally defy the will of Parliament over Kyoto bill?

I know that the Conservatives are in tune ideologically with Dubya Bush, but even I didn’t think that they’d borrow some of his more authoritarian traits, which is to basically ignore the legislative branch when it passes legislation he disagrees with. He does “signing statements” to get around Congress, and our “New Government” is making rumblings that they will attempt to ignore the Kyoto bill that legally binds them to meet short-term Kyoto targets and which is expected to pass next week:

The Tories dismissed as insignificant a Liberal bill that would require them to table a plan within 60 days explaining how they would meet Canada’s commitments under the climate-change treaty…. “No,” said Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon, when asked if the government felt bound by Bill C-288..

Liberal Pablo Rodriguez, who is the MP that sponsored the bill, says it would ignite a constitutional crisis if they ignore it:

”It’s almost launching a coup d’état — to say: `I don’t care what the Commons says; I don’t care what the Senate says; I don’t care what all of Parliament says; I’ll do what I want. I’m the new king of Canada.’.

Kinda fits Harper to a tee as it is – with his tying Cabinet to a short lease and being a control freak.

As it is, constitutional experts agree – they say the Conservatives have a democratic obligation to comply, and would face potential lawsuits for carrying out their threat to ignore this:

Ned Franks, professor emeritus at Queen’s University:“Laws passed by Parliament are the law of the land. There’s no ambiguity in that.. The government needs to produce . . . a plan and have some money budgeted. (This is) Parliament kicking up its heels and saying, `We’re in a minority Parliament — which means you have to have the support of more than just your own people to get things done.’

Patrick Monahan, dean of York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School: He stated that the government would be democratically bound by the legislation.

Stewart Elgie, a professor at the University of Ottawa, who has argued in Supreme Court cases: “There is no conceivable basis to the argument that the law is useless. It’s not something any government could ignore. It’s that simple. If they didn’t (comply) they’d be breaking the law. One presumes the federal cabinet will follow the law. If they didn’t follow the law, someone could take them to court and get a court order.”

By the way, what does the bill ask to do?

The legislation requires the government to submit its plan for perusal within 60 days by the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. The government would also need to set annual emissions targets, publish an annual climate-change progress report, and establish jail sentences or fines for people and business that break the law.

I still can’t believe the Conservatives would attempt to do this – which would basically put them in contempt of Parliament. I have to believe they will try and stall this in the Senate so that they can dissolve Parliament over the Budget vote before it can pass the Upper House and receive Royal Assent. Once this is written into law, as the experts say, they are obligated to comply, regardless of their blustering over it.

To not comply would indeed provoke a Constitutional Crisis. (As said elsewhere, I hope Madame Jean is studying up on her Constitutional law).

That being said, if the government does attempt to pull this stunt, I’ll volunteer to be one of the first to put my signature to a class-action lawsuit to force them to comply.


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