Canada’s ‘Effective Opposition’ forces Clean Air Act to Committee

Prime Minister Harper will send his ‘Clean Air Act’ (sic) to a parliamentary committee for review under threat of his government being brought down.According to Harper has agreed to submit the act, which all opposition parties have said they would vote against, to an all-party committee before second reading. (Usually legislation gets to second reading before anything is done with it.)Following a meeting with Harper yesterday, Jack Layton said he was disappointed with the P.M.’s reaction to his concerns about the bill and, when asked, did not rule out an attempt at bringing down the government. Of course that would require the Bloc and most Liberals to succeed, an unlikely scenario.

But, as was the case with the last Liberal government budget, Layton is effectively pulling some of the strings he holds in a minority parliament. No one in their right mind would want another pre-Christmas election of course. But, if Layton can succeed in getting the Conservatives to govern a little more like the minority they are, he can get some of his proposals written in to the environmental legislation.Layton wants the Conservatives to slash tax subsidies for environmentally-degrading mega-projects, such as the tarsands, and regulating emissions from the biggest polluters by the beginning of 2008.

The NDP stands by targets set in the Kyoto accord on climate change. The Cons have said those targets are out of reach and the Liberals, although signatories to Kyoto, actually watched greenhouse gas emissions grow (and they call the NDP strategy ‘a stunt’ – the closest thing to a compliment NDippers can expect from the Grits.)

This is no game but Jack obviously knows his chess. Even if, as Ottawa Critic thinks, this is just a set-up for a Spring election, the Clean Air Act will have been sacrificed on the altar of the Cons’ Order Paper and Kyoto will remain in play.

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