Recently, the ruling Conservative party in Canada introduced new clean air legislation that has drawn almost universal derision from environmentalists. The bill ignores the Kyoto protocols which were ratified by the previous Liberal government. Unlike the United States, Canada has parliamentary system of government. That means that whichever party wins the most seats in an election gets to form the government even if they don't have a clear majority of the seats. If a minority government, as exists today where the Conservatives are in charge, introduces a bill and the opposition doesn't like it, they can call for a vote of no-confidence. If the non-confidence motion passes, parliament is dissolved and new elections are held.

Earlier this week New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton threatened to introduce a non-confidence motion which almost surely would have passed if Prime Minister Stephen Harper didn't send the environmental bill to committee to be re-written. Facing almost certain defeat, Harper backed down and agreed to re-work the bill in committee. The NDP proposals have much more aggressive targets and focus more on green-house gas reductions. The Conservative proposal is more wide-ranging covering sulfur-dioxide, ozone and other pollutants but with much lower reductions. The NDP wants to base targets on scientific, economic and technological evidence while the Conservatives want to set targets in consultation with industry and the provinces.

[Source: Toronto Star via]

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