“Bill C-311 means nothing” Conservative MP says

Chantaie Allick

"Polar Ice Rim, Norway." Photo Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten. Used under creative commons license (limited rights reserved).

Opposition MPs, expert witnesses and even a member of the Conservative government all agree that Canada has no plan to combat climate change.

The standing committee on environment and sustainable development met Tuesday to discuss Bill C-311, a private members bill introduced by the NDP to combat climate change.

The bill is currently the only legislation moving through the House that addresses climate change and, according to an expert witness who spoke at the committee meeting, it falls far short compared to efforts in both the US and China, two important Canadian economic partners.

Dennis Tirpak of the Word Resources Institute told the committee that, “While far from comprehensive, I believe the bill sets in motion a process that would allow Canada to resume its place amongst countries that are leading the fight against global warming.”

The Government MPs focused their discussion on a continental solution as the best option for Canada, despite evidence from experts that it wouldn’t be possible given the complicated US legislation and legislative process.

Jeff Watson, the Conservative member for Essex, Ontario, bluntly stated that C-311 “ultimately means nothing,” because it does not propose legislation but simply sets targets.

But David McGuinty, Liberal member for Ottawa South, said Canada is going to the UN climate summit in Copenhagen with a blank sheet of paper, lambasting the government for its inaction. “We have nothing going on in Canada, none of these elements in this debate are being put forward in the House of Commons, no committees are being engaged, not even this committee.”

Justin Trudeau (Lib-Papineau) added, “We’re having to address the entire position of Canada’s role in climate change negotiations and our plan for the future around a private members bill because the government has no plan.”

The committee review will continue Wednesday.

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