Friday, February 16, 2007

The Kyoto Bill

Most people have already heard of the Liberal Private Member's Bill (by Pablo Rodriguez) to force the government to comply with Kyoto. This is a very interesting case. At first, Harper said he would not comply with the bill, but yesterday, he changed his mind (like he changed his mind with climate change).

While there is not consensus from constitutional experts, some do believe that Harper would legally have to comply with this bill, or face court challenges (possibly from the Liberals or environmental groups). For the first while, Harper said that this was just a stunt, and that it would have no real meaning, and he would be prepared for a court challenge, or a non-confidence motion.

This sounds too good to be true: Harper saying he'll meet Kyoto targets. But in fact, it is not too good, there is a catch. Yesterday during Question Period, he said, "I'll just point out that the bill has no plan of action in it; the bill gives the government no authority to spend any money to actually have a plan of action."

Well, Harper at least has good intentions. He said he would comply with the bill, except he can't because it doesn't let him spend money. For those who don't know, a Private Member's Bill cannot deal with or spend money.

The political reasoning behind this (for Harper) is simply: he doesn't want to do Kyoto, some backbencher has a bill that will pass to supposedly make him do Kyoto, people support this bill, Harper doesn't want to look like a party-pooper, Harper says that this bill doesn't let him do anything, now Harper looks as if he has good intentions, and says the bill from the evil Liberals won't let him do anything anyway.

But, as the Liberals (and I think NDP, too) points out, he doesn't have to do anything involving money, he can also set regulations, etc. to help achieve the target.

So while the Conservatives have a good excuse to use publicly for not supporting this future law, and—in the news at least—it is looking a bit pointless now, this still could have some legal binding. If after this someone does decide to sue the government, they will still have a case that the Conservatives are not complying, because it doesn't take money to have more regulations. As I am personally not a lawyer, judge or a constitutional expert, I do not know how far this could possibly go, but I do think that a descent case could be put against the government.

Originally, this bill was designed to embarrass Harper (and make him do something, too), but as most negative campaigns and bills do, it backfired on the sender: the Conservatives say they can't do anything with it, anyway. So while this bill takes the time of Parliamentarians, more time is being wasted while the environment waits. Hopefully the electors can see: Liberals don't do anything for the environment, Conservatives don't do anything for the environment and the Bloc supports Harper's budgets. The only (electable) party left: the NDP (which, by the way, is great at governing provincially, with fairly good environment programs).


Anonymous said...

Great post. Good to know that stuff. Sure hope the gov.'s butt gets sued!!

Lori Tory said...

It is the Liberals who are wasting the time! They are wasting Parliament's time with this dumb publicity bill. Sure, one can use it to set targets, but it is not possible to meet Kyoto without spending. Anyways, we already have legislation to set regulations.

Anonymous said...

I live in Saskatchewan so have "enjoyed" the benefits of CCF/NDP governance most of my life. The clear result is a province barely climbing to from decades of being an economic backwater despite the best efforts to keep us poor. This province should be rich given is vast and diversified resources. The socialists have started to fail even at keeping up poor.

Given that history we can only thank God that the chances of an NDP federal government border on the impossible.