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Critical vote on Bill C-311 likely to result in more delays

As reported by the CBC, Liberal’s snub NDP climate-bill, “Federal Liberals say they won’t support the NDP in its effort to push a private member’s climate-change bill through the House of Commons on Wednesday. The proposed legislation, called Bill C-311, the climate change accountability act, sets strict targets for greenhouse gas emissions and is currently being considered by a House environment committee. The committee has asked for an extension of 30 sitting days to review the bill, a request that will be considered Wednesday when the House sits.”

The Council of Canadians issued a letter to all MPs last Friday, October 16, urging them to oppose any extension that will delay the passage of the Climate Change Accountability Act and ensure that Bill C-311is passed in time for the upcoming negotiations for a global climate agreement in Copenhagen, Denmark, December 11-18. Council of Canadians chapter activists across the country have also responded our action alert, emailing and calling their MPs with this message.

The reality is that Canada’s government continues to generate serious international criticism for its unconstructive role at climate negotiations. Failing to commit to needed domestic emission reduction targets, contribute our fair share to help Global South countries adapt to the impacts of climate change and permitting ongoing growth in the tar sands all add to our shameful reputation on climate issues.

Ensuring that the Climate Change Accountability Act is passed before the UN Summit means that the Canadian delegation can arrive in Copenhagen with commitments to legally binding, science-based greenhouse gas reduction targets.

While it is still feasible that the extension allowing more Committee review may be quick enough to return the Bill to the House of Commons for vote right before, or during the UN Summit,  today’s news that the Liberals will be supporting the extension is a serious blow.

Why is more debate needed?

An identical bill was introduced by Jack Layton in the last session of Parliament, which passed final reading in the House of Commons in June 2008. This bill, like others, was victim to the snap election call in fall 2008 and died before making it through the Senate.

Liberal environment critic David McGuinty said the committee needs more time to study the implications of the bill. “We need to hear more about the American position, the European position, the Chinese position” before considering the bill, McGuinty told CBC News.

I will be heading to Parliament Hill for the House of Commons vote at 5:30 and plan to report on updates.