A few years ago, Jack Layton introduced Bill C-311, otherwise known as the Climate Change Accountability Act: reducing national greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by the year 2050 and establishing plans to meet that target. After the country voted in a new government two years ago, the bill was re-introduced by the MP for Thunder Bay, debated and passed in the House of Commons, and sent to the Senate for the last stage in the process of becoming Canadian law. While emissions targets are great in theory but often disappointing in practice because the government is a perpetual climate change reduction under-achiever, passing this bill would have been a step in the right direction. At the very least, it would show the world that Canada is trying to be responsible and recognize its impact on global climate change.
Instead, the Senate took everyone by surprise and voted on Bill C-311 this week on a day when the Conservatives outnumbered their colleagues because 15 Liberals were not present. They didn't pause for debate, they just defeated the bill. That's right, people we did not elect killed policy that people we actually voted for agreed to, i.e., this was an undemocratic act. Apparently Prime Minister Harper agrees with the defeat of the bill (many believe he encouraged his Senator friends to make this happen) because it would be "irresponsible" to put people out of work. In other words, Harper doesn't want to upset his best friend, Big Industry. The irony of how irresponsible it is to kill a bill that could help keep us alive in the long term seems to be lost on him.
The range of emotions I have felt since hearing this news has included anger, sadness, disgust, outrage, shock, and as I mentioned in the title, heartache. Worst of all, I feel ashamed to be Canadian if this is what the government can get away with.
For more details, please read this article from the Globe and Mail and this blog post from the David Suzuki Foundation.