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Baird refuses to consider opposition proposal for trading system – threatens election

The Budget will not be the cause of an election. But if Environment Minister John Baird’s belligerent tone toward the Committee that is looking to add amendments is any indication, it may be the Tories will fall over the amendments the opposition is proposing toward the Clean Air Act:

“I am prepared to face the electorate,” Baird told reporters, referring to a number of government plans, including fighting climate change. The opposition parties have proposed scores of amendments to the Conservatives’ Clean Air Act – amendments that would put into law the Kyoto Protocol’s emission targets, which the government says are unachievable. “If he wants an election on Kyoto, we are ready anytime,” Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe told reporters….Baird told the committee the government’s initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases will not allow international carbon credits. That means Canadian companies struggling to reduce their emissions won’t be able to buy credits from other countries that have met their targets.

This is the same CAA I might remind you last fall that the government emphasized was NOT a non-confidence bill in the government when initial reaction to it was extremely hostile. Harper at that time was willing to send it directly to committee to prevent it from being totally defeated. Now, he may use it as an excuse to trigger an election. Typical Harper flip-flop – but I for one agree with the BQ leader: the opposition parties would love to go to an election painting the Tories as Anti-Kyoto and the environment being the main issue of the election, or the cause of the downfall of this government.

By the way, Baird continues to use the red herring argument that emissions trading would be useless against smog as his reason for the government opposing it:

“We know the air moves around the world, it doesn’t stop at international borders, we know it requires an international effort, so why would you pretend otherwise?” asked Liberal MP Geoff Regan. Baird said he wants Canada to play a major role in combating global warming, but emissions trading would do nothing for city smog. “What I do know is if we spend tens of billions of dollars on the other sides of the earth, while it would, if there was integrity to the system, reduce greenhouse gases, it would do zero, or close to zero for reducing smog and pollution here in Canada.”

Bloc Quebecois environment critic Bernard Bigras angrily accused Baird of misrepresenting the opposition’s position. “We are not asking you to buy hot air, we are not asking you to use taxpayers’ money, we are just asking you to put in place a system so Canadian companies can take advantage of foreign markets.” Baird responded by attacking Liberal Leader Stephane Dion’s plan on climate change, which allows for international trading.

If the government wants to fall on the environment, I say let them. I am unconvinced that the Tories “bump” in couple of polls we have seen so far will last, particularly since both were taken in the immediate aftermath of the budget and didn’t poll later in the week when the Budget was getting attacked left and right everywhere. And I repeat, I think falling on the environment is a bad mistake for the Conservatives.

2 comments to Baird refuses to consider opposition proposal for trading system – threatens election

  • knb

    I don’t know if you watched the exchange Scott, but it was something.

    The Lib’s also called him on his “red herring” argument. I think it was Godfrey who tried to get Baird to acknowledge that the Lib’s had criteria in terms of how trades would occur, and petulant Baird kept speaking over him saying they’d signed Kyoto. Does he really think that his lies won’t be refuted by all groups?

    Frankly, I don’t think we’ve done a good enough job showing the lies for what they are. The “hot air/Russia” retort has legs and it shouldn’t, imo.

    I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the amendments brought in by the Lib’s though. I think they are good amendments on the whole, (I say that knowing nothing other than what I’ve heard from committee and in the press), but I’m not sure about the tactic. I must be missing something, but when I see Cullen get that upset, something is up. Perhaps they have usurped NDP proposals, but I’m not so sure.

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