Canadian Prime Minister Harper agrees to send 'Clean Air Act' to committee

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has agreed to send the government's 'Clean Air Act' to an all-party committee for review, before its second reading, after Tuesday's 25 minute meeting with NDP leader Jack Layton at the PMO.

Layton had asked for changes to the conservatives' environmental bill during the meeting with the PM, asking for a "thorough and complete rewriting" of the Conservative party's environmental bill.

However, Layton was disappointed with Harper's reaction. "I'm not really convinced that the prime minister understands the urgency of the climate change crisis, the threat that climate change proposes and the urgency to move quickly," he said. "Far too much emphasis on consultations that could go on for considerable periods of time as opposed to action.

NDP Leader Jack Layton in Ottawa during the 2006, Canadian federal election

Layton has introduced a private member's bill on climate change. It calls for emissions to be cut by 25 per cent of 1990 levels by 2020, in an attempt to cut total emissions by 80 per cent of those levels by 2050.

Other parties including the Liberal Party of Canada, Bloc Québécois and the Green Party of Canada are concerned about this.

"What we've been concerned about was really a Halloween stunt from Mr. Layton," Interim Liberal leader Bill Graham said at a news conference.

"It will be completely transformed," said BQ Leader Gilles Duceppe. "The Conservatives won't recognize their legislation."

However, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said bringing the 'Clean Air Act' into committee would give the legislation some legitimacy it doesn't deserve.

The committee will be full of critics commenting on the conservatives' bill.

The Tory government may have a possible non-confidence motion as early as Thursday unless it allows opposition parties to rewrite its clean air bill, which the PM had agreed to in the meeting with Layton.