Friday, March 30, 2007

The new, new, new Clean Air and Climate Change Act

Canada’s proposed Clean Air Act emerged yesterday from a special Parliamentary Committee barely recognizable. The opposition parties did not so much retool the bill, as is widely reported, they rewrote it. Even the name changed. Originally, the Made in Canada plan, then the Clean Air Act, it is now the Clean Air and Climate Change Act. The new edition looks a lot like Liberal Leader Stephane Dion’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction plan: a commitment to reaching the Kyoto targets by 2012, emissions caps and fines for large emitters, no vague use of the word emissions and no use of the much-reviled, at least in these parts, term “intensity-based”.

Under normal circumstances, the bill would go to a vote, and with the support of all three opposition parties in the minority Parliament, pass. These circumstances are anything but normal. The sitting Conservative could use a vote on the new Act to trigger an election or could agree to pass the act with some further revisions.

The decision, by all parties, is bound to have more to do with politics than anything else.

For those keeping score at home, Canada is now averaging one new greenhouse gas emissions policy proposal every two months. Perhaps if this proposal forces an election, the rate will increase to one every three weeks or so, surely some sort of record.

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