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|OTTAWA—Opposition MPs and environmental
activists say Canada is going into global-warming talks empty-handed
after a majority of Conservative senators voted down a
A snap vote in the Senate on Tuesday caught Liberals in the Upper
House off guard, and not enough Grits showed up to save the bill
from losing by a margin of 43-32.
NDP Leader Jack Layton, whose party introduced the bill, called it
“outrageous” an unelected Senate can kill what he says is important
He said Canada now has nothing to show heading into a coming round
of United Nations climate talks in Mexico.
“The government has no plan going into a conference on the future of
the climate-change crisis in this country,” he said.
“Canada will be one of the few, probably the only country, who has
absolutely nothing. The only thing we had going for us was that the
House of Commons had adopted the targets established by the Nobel
Peace Prize-winning scientists of the United Nations, who represent
the best thinking globally.”
The bill — the Climate Change Accountability Act — had spent the
last year or so bouncing between the House of Commons and its
The Commons passed the bill in May and it went to the Senate for
The legislation calls for greenhouse gases to be cut 25 per cent
below 1990 levels by 2020.
That’s more stringent than the Harper government’s goal of a 17 per
cent emissions cut from 2005 levels by 2020, which is in line with
the Obama administration’s targets in the United States.
Delegates from nearly 200 countries will meet in the resort town of
Cancun later this month and try to broker an international
Environmentalists also decried the bill’s defeat.
“Using an undemocratic, nineteenth century institution to avoid
dealing with the twenty-first century’s most pressing environmental
problem is both hypocritical and irresponsible,” said Keith Stewart
of Greenpeace Canada.
“As we head into the UN climate talks in Cancun later this month, it
is unacceptable that Canada’s only climate-change legislation has
been defeated after years of majority support from our elected
members of Parliament and their constituents,” Graham Saul of the
Climate Action Network Canada said in a statement.
A blog posting by Clare Demerse of the Pembina Institute, a
non-partisan think tank, took issue with the way the bill was
“It would have been difficult to watch the Senate defeat this
groundbreaking legislation under any circumstances. But to see it
lost in this way is even tougher: C-311 was defeated without any
debate, without the chance to call a single witness to explain what
it offered, and at a moment when key supporters of the bill happened
to be away from the Senate.
“I think that Canadians deserved better,” the blog post read.