Photo: Death of Bill C-311 leaves Canadians with a choice

(Credit: Mikey G Ottawa via Flickr)

By Morag Carter

Like many of you, I've spent a lot of time this week poring over Hansard transcripts and trying to understand out what really happened in the Canadian Senate when the Climate Change Accountability Act was defeated on November 16.

In the media, plenty of blame has been tossed around between Liberal and Conservative senators. The Conservatives blame the Liberals for triggering the vote, and the Liberals blame the Conservatives for voting against a bill before it had been debated on the floor of the Senate or in the Senate committee.

The transcripts aren't clear. Questions are posed, then silence, and then a call to vote on the bill. Trying to figure out what happened has required lessons in arcane procedural rules for the Senate. But really, all that matters in the end is that Conservative senators voted against it and Bill C-311 died an ignominious death. There is nothing on the order paper to replace it. There is no prospect of the current government tabling any legislation of its own and, as a result, we will all suffer. It's a shocking state of affairs.

Very quickly the manner of the defeat of this bill was spun by some as indication that the Senate needs reform. And while it surely does, the real issue that we should all be more concerned about is that a lack of action on climate change spells disaster for entire industrial sectors in this country, and it compromises health and will destroy entire ecosystems.

Nothing less than the well-being of our country and our kids is at stake. And really, compared to that, who cares whether the Senate is filled with unelected cronies or elected officials who are profoundly and absurdly blind and deaf to the threats of today and tomorrow?

Canadians have a choice here: we can continue to wait for leadership to come from politicians who have shown a remarkable and willful lack of leadership on this issue, or we can provide leadership ourselves. There are a thousand and one things that we can do in our communities, in our workplaces, and in our homes. Let's create the momentum for change and invite those who share our vision of the world to join us.

November 25, 2010

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