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Bill C-288 (Kyoto implementation act) passes; government threatens to ignore it.

Bill C-288 passes 3rd and final reading 161 – 113. The Bill now makes its way to the Senate. You know, I have a question – if the Conservatives are so sure that they can ignore this bill and it means nothing, why have they tried so hard to kill it and risk Parliamentary censure before it even got to a vote?

the Conservative government lost a last-ditch effort to kill the opposition bill. The Tories appealed to the Speaker of the House of Commons to declare it invalid, arguing that it would illegitimately force the government to spend money against its will.
However, Speaker Peter Milliken cited two previous rulings that the bill contains no government spending measures. In addition, he can’t speculate on what impact the bill could potentially have. Again citing past rulings, Milliken said the Commons can vote later on any money-related provisions as they come up. Parliamentary procedures specifically prohibit such appeals.

I believe the quote from the Speaker was: “(The government) presents no new arguments but instead comes perilously close to an appeal of the chair’s decision”. A government doesn’t go out of its way to try and kill a “nothing” bill to the point of breaching Parliamentary protocol if it is confident they wouldn’t be forced to follow it if passed into law, as this bill is now close to becoming (subject to Senate approval and Royal Assent, which are both givens).

Of course, this didn’t stop the blowhards over on the Conservative side from continuing to insist they would still ignore this:

The government has hinted strongly that it will simply ignore Bill C-288 — even if it is approved by the Senate and becomes law, as expected.. Several Tories suggested the minority government might simply ignore the bill if it becomes law. “It’s just a mischief bill,” said Mark Warawa, parliamentary secretary to the environment minister.

“Mischief” that you have to follow whether you like it or not, Mark; so say the constitutional experts:

…constitutional experts have said the government has no choice but to respect laws passed in Parliament, and they’ve warned that lawsuits lie ahead if it fails to do so. In interviews last week, university law professors Ned Franks, Patrick Monahan and Stewart Elgie all agreed that the government has no choice but to follow the law. Adding his voice to the list Wednesday was Errol Mendes of the University of Ottawa. “If the bill passes. . . it will be a binding legal obligation on the part of the government,” Mendes told CTV. “There could be very serious legal consequences.”

So far, the Conservatives are publicly saying they are willing to face lawsuits – a suit they would surely lose – but also challenging the Opposition to bring the government down if they don’t like that they’re going to apparently ignore it.

I’d not take that bait if I were any of the Opposition Parties. I’d take the government to court over this and force the issue that way.

Not even this government, as petulant as its shown to be over this issue, would dare ignore the will of the federal courts in Canada if they were ruled against (which most constitutional law experts believe they would be).

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19 comments to Bill C-288 (Kyoto implementation act) passes; government threatens to ignore it.

  • wilson61

    You Libs don’t seem very optomistic about winning the next election by the sounds of it. I thought Dion was going to win and then HE would have 60 days to come up with a plan or go to court. One Liblogger suggested jail! But he too must have been assuming Harper would win.

    You Libs would have killed that bill if you thought you had a hope in hell of winning the next election!!

    Scott and knb:
    ”you already can already fight pollution using the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA)”

    Oh, so why didn’t Dion & the Libs use it when they were in power? You know, signing Kyoto and everything in 1998.
    Why wait until 2007 and expect (force) the new government to do what they would not?
    Better dig out your ‘Kyoto 101’, you may find that the Liberal Party was in breach of the terms of Kyoto, hmmmm technicality?

    Like Dryden said ‘Why didn’t we do better?’
    Like Iggy said ‘We didn’t get it done!’

  • Gayle

    Scott – I take your point. I do not think that was particularly smart of Harper. It certainly caters to his social conservative base, but that is the old “Scary Harper” showing up again.

    Of course Harper and Co will trot out the list of liberal appointees, many of whom donated to the liberal party. I suspect that many of the judges appointed by Mulroney were big donors to the PC party. Our own Chief Justice of the SCC was appointed by Mulroney, and it was a liberal who promoted her to the Chief Justice.

    Perhaps the liberals need to point out Harper just cannot do what he is saying he will do because anyone he appoints will still be bound by the law.

  • Gayle said:

    [quote comment=”1656″]
    I would suggest liberals stop playing up this whole “conservative bias” in the courts thing because all it does is discredit the judges who are already appointed. I know this may be hard, but maybe people need to trust that the judges will do the right thing, even though they were once lawyers.[/quote]

    That would be well and good Gayle.. except Harper then comes out in the House of Commons and blatantly admits he’s trying to get judges picked to fit his government’s political agenda.

  • Gayle

    [quote comment=”1651″]They can’t force out current judges – they can only use it to appoint new ones to the bench where there is a need to fill an appointment.

    So, they can’t stack the courts with their cronies to get themselves a favourable ruling.[/quote]

    As I said on your thread on this issue, it probably will not matter if they stack the courts – once someone becomes a judge that person is bound by the law. For example, a conservative appointed judge could not decide that every offender is going to get the maximum sentence as a matter of policy – that decision would be overturned by an appellate court very quickly. The truth is once most judges are appointed their decisions are based on solid legal principles and not on policy. Another truth is that most judges are very embarassed when their decisions are overturned.

    I would suggest liberals stop playing up this whole “conservative bias” in the courts thing because all it does is discredit the judges who are already appointed. I know this may be hard, but maybe people need to trust that the judges will do the right thing, even though they were once lawyers.

  • Looks like Scott’s been doing his homework.

    You get an A+.

    :em21:

  • My mistake, then I guess 60 days. My only question is once passed, if they engineer their defeat within 60 days, then how is it counted. Since laws cannot be passed or anything done during a writ period. My guess is it would be within the first 60 days of the next parliament for whoever forms government. My understanding is the budget is coming down in March, it will likely be voted on in April, so I am expecting the government to fall this April in time for a May election

    I doubt they could win it in court, unless they win it on a technicality. I haven’t read the bill so a lot depends on how precise or vague it is. If it is very vague and general, they could probably win a court case, while if specific in details, then no they couldn’t.

  • knb

    I understand, but aren’t there a lot of vacancies right now?

  • They can’t force out current judges – they can only use it to appoint new ones to the bench where there is a need to fill an appointment.

    So, they can’t stack the courts with their cronies to get themselves a favourable ruling.

  • knb

    Thanks for the info Scott.

    You’re right about the courts and perhaps I’ve got this wrong, but don’t they first have to go through lower courts? On that count, they’ve already started to put this in place haven’t they? Doesn’t that reduce the chances of it making it’s way up?

    Who is following the lower courts on this issue? The supreme court is obviously the focus, but I think more important to most of us are all the rest.

  • 60 days, Knb.

    Miles isn’t correct. Once it passes the Senate, 60 days is the time limit they have to come up with something show their plans for meeting Kyoto.. and they cant ignore it if they call an election. They would have to engineer their own defeat before the Senate passes this bill to cause it to die.

    I wouldnt put it past this bunch to think they had a chance to win this in court, but as I said elsewhere, Harper’s judge-stacking scheme wont have had enough time to put all his Conservative cronies on the bench yet.. so they would face almost certain defeat.

  • knb

    Wilson, they do have regulatory powers under CEDA. As for money, there is spending that could go forward within the confines of simply running government, not announcements that are contingent on a budget.

    Miles, I’ll have to back and check, but I think after it receives consent, they have 3 month’s.

  • Wilson61 asked:
    [quote comment=”1644″]”Baird suggested the government will simply ignore the bill if it becomes law.”How do you implement a bill with no money and no regulatory powers?” he told CTV News.

    Can any one answer that?[/quote]

    Why would you want to pass a Clean Air Act to fight pollution when you already can already fight pollution using the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA)? Baird and Harper can fight GHG right now using that act if they want to – Dion made an amendment to the act as Environment Minister to include Greenhouse Gas as a pollutant, and so the Tories can setup GHG restrictions that way at any time.. but have chosen not to do so.

    Can any Tory answer that should be the more relevant question. :em14:

  • My understanding is the Conservatives have six months to come up with a plan, so since I expect an election before then, they likely will dodge this one. Now if re-elected with another minority government, then they could face trouble. I would be interested in how specific the wording is here since if it is just a general statement, they could win on a technicality, but if very specific, then they have no choice but to follow.

  • wilson61

    ”Baird suggested the government will simply ignore the bill if it becomes law.
    “How do you implement a bill with no money and no regulatory powers?” he told CTV News.

    Can any one answer that?

  • Going to court would definately be a better idea than risking an election over this. I’m sure I’m not the only Canadian getting pissed at both parties for their politicking and childish antics. But it wouldn’t even, I don’t think, have to be the Liberals to take them to court over the issue. Environmental groups could also take the Conservatives to court for not acting, which would be exciting to see.

    http://grindyoudown.blogspot.com/

  • knb

    Not even this government, as petulant as its shown to be over this issue, would dare ignore the will of the federal courts in Canada if they were ruled against (which most constitutional law experts believe they would be).

    Oh, I think they would find a way and call an election as a way to evade the issue.

    I think, (hope) the Lib’s do not take the bait. The Government is looking very cocky. That’s always trouble. The surer they feel, the more they talk and in their case, that is always trouble.

    My sense at this point is they are going to experience blow-back, though the Lib’s have to manage this carefully.

    Off topic, but related, there was a study out of the UK I think today, that suggested that bad has more influence than good. That’s sad, but it’s only one study.

  • A non-confidence motion isn’t a foregone conclusion.. I still contend they’ll go to court first.

  • Centre

    An election over Kyoto?

    Would be a coin toss on who would win. Neither the Liberals or Conservatives have leadership on the issue.

    This is a risky gamble on the part of Dion, Layton and Duceppe

    Im a Liberal and I would vote Green if Kyoto was the reason we went into an election.

  • Walkswithcoffee

    We know they will ignore it… so, there is a confidence motion and an election. The CPoC was given three changes – two votes in parliament and opportunity to present a plan.

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