Canadian government threatens to ignore law respecting Kyoto Protocol

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Members of Stephen Harper's Conservative government said Friday that the government of Canada may ignore an upcoming House of Commons bill to respect the Kyoto accord. The Liberal-sponsored Bill C-288 requires the government to table a plan within 60 days explaining how they would meet climate change commitments.

The final vote on the bill is expected on Wednesday. Earlier votes passed with the support of all three opposition parties. Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon says the government does not feel bound by the terms of the bill, adding that the government will "act [...] instead of adopting an empty piece of legislation

Officials within the Canadian and United States Governments have previously criticised the Kyoto Accord for exempting the People's Republic of China and India, two of the largest world carbon emitters.

Rona Ambrose (at the time Canada's Environment Minister) voiced Canada's interest in participating in U.S. sponsored Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. "We've been looking at the Asia-Pacific Partnership for a number of months now because the key principles around [it] are very much in line with where our government wants to go," Ambrose told reporters in 2006.[1]

Liberals say ignoring the bill would be a "coup d'etat" and would trigger a constitutional crisis.

Pablo Rodriguez, Liberal MP from Montreal and sponsor of the bill, says that if the bill becomes law, the government will have to respect the Kyoto Accord or call an election. However the legislation is not being considered a confidence matter, and therefore would not bring down the government on the vote itself.

Experts are saying the government has a democratic obligation to follow laws. Ned Franks, a professor at Queen's University believes the government would need to produce a plan and have money value attached to it.

Stewart Elgie, a professor at the University of Ottawa, confirmed that if passed and no action is taken, the government would be breaking the law and could be taken to court.