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Serve and volley

The environmental ball is back in Stephen Harper’s court:

Bill C-30, Canada’s clean air act, introduced by the governing Conservatives in October, is due to be submitted to the House of Commons Friday…Opposition members, who form a majority on the committee, have completely revamped the bill so that it barely resembles its original form. It now contains short-term, mid-term and long- term targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It includes a commitment to a system of international emissions carbon trading. And it provides for what is being called a green investment bank where companies that fail to meet targets pay penalties instead. The opposition introduced more than 50 amendments to the bill, while the Conservatives did not introduce a single amendment.

Harper is going to have to decide whether to accept the will of Parliament (all 3 opposition parties offered amendments to Bill C-30), or whether he’s really going to declare this amended bill a motion of non-confidence. Remember, he sent this bill to be rewrote last fall by this committee, and at the time everyone was assured the government wouldn’t have to fall over this bill. Let’s see if he decides its politically expedient to declare it so now. As I’ve repeatedly said, I think its foolish for the Tories to go to an election and fight it out over whether we want to try to meet Kyoto or not.


11 comments to Serve and volley

  • Gayle

    I was going to post exactly what IP posted about Edmonton Centre and Strathcona. Jim Wachowich is well known and respected in Edmonton – much more so than McLellan was before she won that riding, so he has a great shot.

    I live in Strathcona and believe Linda Duncan has an excellent chance as well – because this riding wants very much to rid ourselves of Jaffer, but the vote keeps splitting. Due to the strong showing she put in last time I think more people will vote for her to keep Jaffer out.

    Wilson – I think you may be correct about that. I read earlier this week that the conservatives and NDP would team up to pass the minimum sentences bill without most of the amendments by the committee.

  • wilson61

    Not sure that I have this right, but, it seems that the Conservatives can put forth ammendments after the bill leaves committee:

    ”Once the committee has concluded its clause-by-clause consideration of a bill, it reports the bill to the House with or without amendment….These are called “report stage motions”. All Members of the House may propose report stage motions. …”

  • So will an election over the Clean Air Act win Harper the good graces of Albertans who subscribe to the ideas of Morton, Flanagan, and the Calgary School? The answer is yes.

    That wasn’t what you said, though. You said falling on the Clean Air Act would appeal to “Alberta,” not “Albertans who subscribe to the ideas of…&etc.” The latter group is in fact a tiny fraction of Albertans, stereotypes notwithstanding. Just be a little more careful about throwing us all into one pot like that, okay?

    As for whether opposition parties could take seats in Alberta, the Liberals have a good shot at Edmonton-Centre (Anne McLellan’s former riding, strong candidate, very strong Liberal election machine with all the party resources concentrated there, fairly close vote last time, weak current MP), and the NDP have a good shot at Edmonton-Strathcona (Very strong candiate, election machine that’s been running full-steam since October, all the party resources concentrated there, fairly close vote last time, weak current MP).

    Neither is a sure thing, of course, but all the little birdies I know tell me that the two sitting Conservatives are awfully nervous.

  • mushroom


    I thought I have answered your question. I don’t have an easy answer so these are my thoughts.

    For Albertans who have experienced Western alienation, things like Kyoto are considered to be institutions and legislations imposed from bureaucrats from Ottawa. Same thing as promoting a budget that leads to public spending in Quebec. You are also dealing with a Prime Minister that had supported, along with Ted Morton, the right for Alberta to put firewalls in defending its provincial jurdisdiction against Canada. So will an election over the Clean Air Act win Harper the good graces of Albertans who subscribe to the ideas of Morton, Flanagan, and the Calgary School? The answer is yes. I know you are opposed to everything that Harper’s clan in Calgary stand for. I hope that I have addressed your question.

    I will wait for your response. I believe that while Dion is right in focusing on meeting Kyoto targets, he also needs to defend on the federal right to legislate laws to protect the environment and preserve international agreements. Dion also needs to attack Harper by saying that a rejection of Kyoto targets supports the weakening of Canada through the right of a province such as Alberta to build firewalls.

    Hope my agreement is convincing.

  • mushroom,

    Whether or not the Liberals (or the NDP) can win a seat in Alberta is a separate question from whether “an election over the Clean Air Act will put him back in the good graces of Alberta.” I have an answer to your question, but I’d first like you to answer mine.

  • mushroom


    As of today, do you think that Dion’s Liberals can win one seat in Alberta?

    There are environmental issues that Albertans are concerned about. Even Preston Manning has suggested that Canadians need to be concerned about the environment. But most rural Albertans will tend to be concerned more about environmental issues such as water conservation than taxing polluters as a means to fulfill Kyoto targets.

    In urban centres such as Calgary and Edmonton, it is a different story. To paraphrase Howard Dean, I would love to find ways for encourage Albertan wranglers in pick-up trucks to vote Liberal. However, I have yet to find the right message.

  • Mushroom,

    Do you not believe the polls that asked Albertans what their #1 issue is (and got the environment, just like the rest of the country), or are you just stereotyping?

  • mushroom


    You are hoping to a fault that Harper’s own arrogance will destroy him in the campaign trail.

    An election over the Clean Air Act will put him back in the good graces of Alberta, who have been critical of Harper’s appeasement of Quebec.

    Harper is not going to be stupid and run as a climate change denier. His focus in a snap election will be on one person – Stephane Dion. Dion wants Kyoto, Dion is a one trick pony, therefore Stephane Dion should not be Prime Minister.

    I am one Liberal who is reluctant to run an election as a referendum on Stephane Dion’s leadership. Not only will Dion be attacked mercilessly by Harper, but he will also be submitted to attack by Layton and Duceppe if they see that the Liberals are trying to outflank them from the left.

    I will say finish by saying one thing. Governments are hardly defeated, they usually fall from power.

  • I disagree Mushroom, I would love for them to call a motion of non-confidence on this.

    It shows a) they’re hypocrites – because back in the fall they declared their government wouldnt fall if this bill failed, and then b) they sent it to this Committee to get it re-worked. Well.. its been re-worked.. note that the government produced not a single amendment to this bill.. while the other 3 did 50. To quote Jack Layton, the opposition members “got things done”. You might as well add c) its a bad public perception if they go to the polls over their refusal to toughen up an environment bill.

    I see nothing but advantage for the opposition on this issue if Harper falls on it.

  • mushroom

    This revamped Clean Air Act looks like the perfect opportunity for the government to pull the plug.

    It can create the perception that the opposition is daring Harper to make the government fall.

    What should the opposition do if Harper calls the opposition bluff and makes it a motion of non-confidence?

    In that case, the Liberals must not give Harper the easy way out to the polls. They will have to use all the procedural means possible to stall the vote. Dion may have to call on the Liberal Senate majority to declare the CPC budget dead on arrival and any bills passed by Harper’s government. The intention is make Harper realize that there is a price to pay for causing the government to fall.

  • Even with their fondest desires to go to an election, I can’t see them trying to pull the plug on an environmental bill. They seem to have done a good job of avoiding talk of the environment the past few months, so why they would want to bring that back to the fore-front is insane.

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