House of Commons

Wed, 2011-05-04 13:56Emma Pullman
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Facing Four More Years of Harper Inaction, Canadians Must Rally Their Own Climate Leadership

Earlier this week, Canadians flocked to the polls for the fourth time in 7 years. This time around, the election was triggered when the minority government led by Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper was found in contempt of parliament in March for failing to release information related to the costs of proposed crime legislation and the purchase of stealth fighter jets.

From the moment the election was announced, Harper derided it as ‘unnecessary’, and ‘unwanted’ even though public polling clearly indicated widespread displeasure with his handling of the economy, public programming including programs for women, the environment, and for proroguing parliament twice. After the 2008 election, when voter turnout was the lowest in Canadian history (59% overall, and a dismal youth turnout of 37%), people wondered if this so-called ‘unwanted’ election would fail to motivate voters to the polls.

While pundits and pollsters made their best guesses leading up to election day, no one correctly anticipated the outcome. With just under 40% of the vote, the Conservatives finally won the majority they have coveted since ascending in 2006. The New Democratic Party (NDP) won 102 seats and formed the official opposition for the first time in history. The Liberal Party was reduced to a mere 34 seats, and the Bloc Quebecois lost 90% of its seats to end up with 4. On the positive side, Green Party candidate Elizabeth May won her party’s first seat in North American history.

Of the 14 closest ridings that Conservatives won seats, the combined margin of victory in all those ridings was 6,201 votes. That means the real difference between a Harper minority and majority was just over 6,000 votes. While 5.8 million people voted for Stephen Harper, another 9 million – the ‘real majority’ – voted for change. But, with his new majority, Harper no longer has to worry about impediments to his extreme ideology; he can ram his anti-science, pro-polluter agenda down the throats of the Canadian public. That spells trouble for Canada’s environment, and it’s especially bad news for the global climate.

Tue, 2010-12-14 12:18Emma Pullman
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Legislation Introduced To Ban Oil Tanker Traffic On B.C.’s North Coast

Today, Vancouver Quadra Liberal MP and former B.C. Environment Minister Joyce Murray introduced legislation in Canada’s House of Commons that would formally ban oil tanker traffic in B.C.’s North Coast.  Bill C-606 comes days after a successful House of Commons motion demonstrated support for a legislated ban on oil tankers.

Though the motion carried, the victory was only bittersweet because the motion passed is not binding, and merely calls on the Tory government to legislate a formal ban.  The Conservative government maintains that a ban is unnecessary since a long-standing, informal moratorium on oil tanker traffic and all offshore oil and gas activity has been in effect since 1972.  Yet last year, the Harper government quietly affirmed that it is not legally bound to maintain a moratorium on oil drilling off the coast of British Columbia.  The government determined that the 1972 ban doesn’t technically apply to oil-tanker traffic.  To date, eight Canadian prime ministers have upheld the moratorium, but that could all change.  The B.C. government is currently lobbying the federal Conservative government to revoke the ban.  Opposition parties fear the Tory government will allow the ban to be lifted in order to profit from growing Asian energy markets.

Tue, 2010-12-07 17:26Emma Pullman
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Canada Votes to Ban Tar Sands Oil Tankers off BC Coast; Enbridge Front Group Exposed

Today, Canada’s House of Commons approved a motion calling for a permanent ban on oil tankers off British Columbia’s coast.  The passed NDP motion introduced by MP Nathan Cullen urges the government to immediately propose legislation to “ban bulk oil tanker traffic” through the Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound, off the north coast of B.C.  The bill received Parliamentary support in a tight a vote of 143-138, with all opposition parties supporting it and Conservatives opposed.

British Columbia is now one step closer to having a full legislated ban on supertankers off its north and central coasts. The opposition is sending a clear message to the Conservatives to legislate a formal moratorium. 

Today’s ban could seriously impact Enbridge, who has plans to develop a $5.5 billion 1,170-kilometre pipeline to carry dirty tar sands bitumen to Kitimat, B.C., where it would be loaded onto supertankers bound for growing energy markets in Asia.

Wed, 2010-11-17 11:42Emma Pullman
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Canadian Conservative Senators Use their Clout to Kill Climate Bill Passed by House of Commons

A snap vote in Canada’s unelected, and primarily Tory Senate on Tuesday night saw the demise of the NDP’s Climate Change Accountability Act by a narrow margin of 43-32.  The vote caught Liberals in the Upper House off guard, and the climate change legislation was no match for Stephen Harper’s conservative-stacked Senate. Without any debate in the Red Chamber, Conservative Senators called a vote on Bill C-311 introduced by Thunder Bay-Superior NDP Bruce Hyer. Canada’s hope for meaningful environmental legislation ahead of the UN Cancun climate talks later this month was killed by eleven votes.
 
The bill has spent the last year bouncing between the House of Commons and its environmental committee.  It would have called for greenhouse gas emissions to be cut by 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. It also set a long-term goal to bring emissions down 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.  That’s a lot more stringent than what the Harper government is calling for now—namely a 17 percent emissions cut from 2005 levels by 2020.
 
This marks the first time that unelected Conservative Senators have used their near-majority to kill a bill passed by elected politicians. The absence of over 15 Liberals from the Senate allowed the bill to fail narrowly in a vote.
 
According to NDP leader Jack Layton, “This was one of the most undemocratic acts that we have ever seen in the Parliament of Canada…To take power that doesn’t rightfully belong to them to kill a bill that has been adopted by a majority of the House of Commons representing a majority of Canadians is as wrong as it gets when it comes to democracy in this country”. 

Wed, 2010-03-31 14:32Jim Hoggan
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Phil Jones Exonerated by British House of Commons

The British House of Commons today issued a report exonerating Professor Phil Jones, the director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.  Dr. Jones was embroiled in controversy following the theft of internal emails and documents from the University’s servers in November of last year. 

The report states that “the focus on CRU and Professor Phil Jones, Director of CRU, in particular, has largely been misplaced,” and that Dr. Jones’s actions were “in line with common practice in the climate science community,” and the CRU’s “analyses have been repeated and the conclusions have been verified.”

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