Conservatives plan to reject budget over newly introduced Kyoto amendment in Canada

Saturday, March 26, 2005

The Canadian Conservative Party plans to reject the federal budget. A recently amended provision allowing the government to control greenhouse gas emissions is "completely unacceptable," says its leader Stephen Harper.

Harper said Thursday his party plans to vote against the omnibus budget bill if it includes the amendment to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. It would add greenhouse gas emissions to the list of controlled substances, allowing the Canadian government to regulate those emissions, he contends. "This is an attempt by the government to get unlimited power to impose multimillion-dollar fines on any basis, without any parliamentary approval or discussion, whatsoever." Harper said.

The controversial amendment was introduced after a lengthy cabinet debate between Finance Minister Ralph Goodale and others.

When the budget was tabled last month, Harper initially said his party would support the bill. He now says the party will oppose it unless the Liberal government removes the amendment. Environment Minister Stéphane Dion, who is attempting to have a $10 million Kyoto implementation plan in place by April 4, said he would be "very, very pleased" to fight an election over climate change.

The NDP and Bloc Québécois have both said they will oppose the bill. The Liberal Party of Canada has 133 seats, so its defeat seems certain if all four parties hold their positions.

Both the NDP and the Bloc also accuse the Liberal party of trying to tack the Kyoto amendment onto the bill without sufficient debate.

Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe said that he was not satisfied with a number of provisions in the bill. “First of all it's not enough on Kyoto. We don't know the plan, we didn't discuss the plan," Duceppe said. “I'm ready to have an election any time if this is what they want."

NDP leader, Jack Layton, said "The Liberals are playing games with the environment. Paul Martin doesn't care about the Kyoto plan. He cares about playing politics and that is what's going on here."

It will be up to Prime Minister Paul Martin whether a defeat triggers an election.


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