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Will the Tories actually try to fall on the Clean Air Act amendments? Foolhardy

Due to all the stuff about the Budget, this was a story that didn’t get talked about at many places yesterday (with a notable exception here and there):

The government’s centrepiece environmental legislation, the Clean Air Act, is in deep trouble and there’s speculation it could become the trigger for an election. This week all three opposition parties proposed amendments to the bill amendments that would enshrine the emissions-cutting targets of the Kyoto Protocol, which the Conservatives have called unachievable.
After the amendments were tabled, the government cancelled a Tuesday meeting of the committee studying the bill.

Perhaps the 3 opposition parties who have been bickering over what changes are to be made finally decided to work together, since the Budget passing is a foregone conclusion. The apparent decision to shut down the Committee for now is due to the fact all 3 parties proposed hard caps on emissions be put into the CAA and to follow Kyoto guidelines – and that is obviously anathema to the Conservatives:

Proposed amendments by the three opposition parties not only agree on the Kyoto target, a six per cent cut in greenhouse emissions from 1990 levels by 2012, but also on subsequent targets: a 25 per cent cut by 2020 and an 80 per cent cut by 2050. The bill as it stands includes no reference to Kyoto and cites only one target, a 40-to-60 per cent emissions cut by 2050.

You can now pretty well conclude their plans for the CAA and other “green plans” continue to be intensity targets, which will actually allow more GHG to be released as production rises.

As for the election speculation, I would find it very interesting that Harper would try to fall on his CAA act being revised, when back in the Fall everyone was taking great pains to declare this wasn’t a money or supply bill, and the government wouldn’t fall on it if it was defeated or revised. Now, Harper may try to do that exact thing, but I’d find that pretty risky on his part: a) he’d get called on the prior point, and b) it would bring the focus back to the Environment as an issue that despite the Conservatives attempts to neutralize, is still an issue of vulnerability for them. Calling the election over the opposition attempting to toughen the CAA would merely exacerbate that point, as they say in the article:

…opposition critics say the Conservatives would be foolhardy to pick an electoral fight on the environment, given their lack of an overall plan for addressing climate change. “If Mr. Harper would like to fight the next election … on our commitment to Kyoto and his commitment to nothing, we’ll gladly join him in that debate,” said NDP environment critic Nathan Cullen.

I’d say the Liberals and BQ would concur on that.

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2 comments to Will the Tories actually try to fall on the Clean Air Act amendments? Foolhardy

  • John Baird came out two days ago and said Canada would live up to its Kyoto obligations. So they’ll fall on oppo attempts to help them live up to those commitments? Doesn’t make much sense to me. If anything, they would try and go down on their law and order agenda,although I don’t really see that working too well for them either.

  • Not so foolhardy.

    Fall on the Clean Air Act, have an early election based on the latest “goodies for everyone” budget and the environment, which they have managed to turn into a weakness for Dion rather than a strength.

    Do all of that and get an election out of the way, even if it means no changes in the seat distribution or the balance of power. That way, they avoid falling later in the spring or the summer, at the timing dictated by the opposition, when the spring offensive is well under way in Afghanistan and the parade of body bags starts again.

    The Cons can maintain or even win on Clean Air and this budget. They will lose bad during an election about Afghanistan. They are trying to avoid the latter by going with the former.

    That’s my Machiavellian take anyway.

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