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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Senate Kills Bill C-311

In a snap decision, November 16, 2010, the Canadian Senate killed the Climate Change Accountability Act by a vote of 43-32. This vote caught the Liberal senators off guard and not enough of them showed up to vote and possibly save the Legislation.

The Bill had already spent the past year bouncing between the Parliament and the environment committee. The elected House of Commons passed the Bill in May and then it went to the Senate for final approval.

The way this vote was carried out was an insult to all Canadians and our democracy. The vote was called without notice and without debate. The Senate killed the Bill before they studied it or even called for independent expert witnesses.

The Act would have committed Canada to an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 205 and a 25% reduction below 1990 levels by 2020. Stephen Harper’s government claims the cost of reducing emissions will be economically devastating. Since the government could not defeat the Bill in Parliament they relied on the Senate to defeat it. Economists from the World Bank have concluded that the failure to reduce greenhouse gasses will have catastrophic economic and environmental consequences.

Our government dismissed its obligation under the Kyoto Protocol, which was an international climate change agreement that originally Canada and 186 other countries ratified. Now this defeat of the Climate Change Accountability Act – shows why Canada has earned the dubious reputation of obstructing progress at international negotiations regarding climate change, even though Canada is probably more vulnerable to the effects of climate change that any other industrialized nation.

In Nova Scotia, the effects of climate change would be particularly devastating as most of our infrastructure and communities are along the coastline, which would be hard hit by the rise in water levels. Even the marsh area surrounding the Town of Amherst could be hard hit by the rising waters.

Using an unelected body of government to kill a bill that was passed by a significant majority of the members of Parliament and was supported by a petition signed by more that 150,000 Canadians shows a lack of respect for Canadians that do care deeply about climate change. It was irresponsible and will leave the burden of this decision on the shoulders of our children.

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