Bill C-311 Sent Back to the House!
The Liberals told me they had two reasons for not supporting Bill C-311. Both, in the words of a former Sierra climate campaigner, are "dodo."
First, there is a section in the bill that refers to Canada's National Inventory of Greenhouse Gases. The Liberals say this would prevent international emissions trading, which they say they can't support it.
Second, the bill gives the federal government the authority to impose emission reduction plans on the provinces. This, they say, could trigger a constitutional crisis.
I responded by questioning their interpretation of the inventory reference and asked why - if this is a problem - didn't they work with the NDP and the Bloc to ammend it?
On the second point I pointed out that it was this very same Liberal fear while in government that caused them to delay regulating industrial GHGs. They planned to begin regulating January 1st, 2008 because they could justify doing so under the Environmental Protection Act. This Act empowers the Minister to regulate in order to ensure compliance with an international treaty. This power was used to eliminate CFCs under the Montreal Protocol on Ozone Depleting Chemicals. In these situations, with the feds having the power, the provinces decided to put in place their own regulations. It was a very successful approach.
Bill C-311 would have a similar impact, but would not rely on the federal government ratifying an international treaty - a highly unlikely event in today's circumstances.
Therefore, putting this power in the bill is an absolutely essential tool to ensure national action on climate change. We have seen what happens without it.
For activists, this creates a dilemma. How do we react?
I told the Liberals that Bill C-311 is a symbol of commitment and voting against it will be perceived as an abandonment of their courageous leadership they showed in 2008.
No one, I told them, will understand or accept their quibbles with bill.
I certainly don't.