Canada’s Climate Bill Passed By Majority of Parliamentarians May Be Blocked By Unelected Conservative Senators

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has long been a proponent of an elected senate.  In the Canadian system, senators are selected by the Prime Minister. Traditionally, the Senate has been referred to as the “chamber of sober second thought”, but it has the same powers as the House of Commons except that it can not introduce legislation related to the raising or spending of money. Although the approval of both the Senate and the House of Commons is necessary for legislation, historically the Senate rarely rejects bills passed by the directly elected Commons.

Now that Mr. Harper finds himself in the position of being able to appoint senators, although he’s the PM of a minority, not a majority, government, he has made over 30 senate appointments, changing the face of the upper chamber.  The Conservatives now hold a plurality in the senate, and are poised to be one senator away from a majority when Harper replaces independent Senator Micheal Pitfield, who retired last week.

And that means Bill C311, The Climate Accountability Act, which was passed by the majority of Members of Parliament in the House of Commons in May, may be voted down by unelected senators who represent a minority government.  It doesn’t sound very democratic, does it?

If you agree, please take the time to send senators a message about respecting the wishes of Canadians.  A nanos research poll from early May shows that Canadians ranked global warming as the number one issue they wanted addressed at the G8/G20 meetings in Toronto in a few weeks.  Yet we have a minority Prime Minister who says that the economy trumps “everything”, almost as if he doesn’t recognize that we, or more accurately our children, have to live on the planet once we’ve trashed it in the name of “the economy”. And his Senate House Leader, Senator Marjorie LeBreton, has said that the Conservative government isn’t supportive of this bill because they have already addressed concerns about climate change, which is more Conservative PR spin with no substance.

What is a Canadian who is concerned about the environment, and who would like to ensure their children’s future is secure and bright, to do?  The most important thing that you can do right now is to contact Canadian senators, particularly Conservative senators, and let them know you that you want them to pass Bill C311.  For contact info and sample letters, and more steps to take, go to my “Action Not Apathy” page for information and links.

More links:

Ontario Senator Pitfield resigns. CBC.ca

Nanos G8/G20 Poll

Weird Weather This Weekend – Again

Here in Manitoba, it has been a weekend of record-breaking downpours.  The Red River rose by more than nine feet over the weekend. In Winnipeg, streets were closed, sewers backed up and basements flooded all over the city.  Rural parts of the province were hit even more severely, with the town of Emerson at the U.S./Canada border declaring a state of emergency.

People in these parts are not happy with our weather this spring, and they are remembering the “summer that wasn’t” last year.  Most people over 30 will tell you that the weather is different from when they were younger; it can’t be counted on the way it used to be.  Besides being less dependable, it is also “weird” – like the hailstorms in northwestern Ontario at the beginning of April this year, and the rain during the winter months Manitoba has experienced two winters in a row.

What is going to happen, I wonder, when the population as a whole realizes that our erratic weather is happening because our leaders didn’t heed the warning of scientists, who have been sounding the alarm about the warming of the atmosphere, and resulting global weather “weirding”  for decades?  How will people feel when they realize they have been betrayed by politicians who put political expediency and short-term economic profits over the long-term well-being of the planet and our children’s future? What will people say when they see our economy pushed to the breaking point trying to deal with the weather disasters and crop failures brought on by our reckless burning of fossil fuels? I imagine there will be anger among citizens that is unparalleled in the world’s history.  It’s not to late for our politicians to read the writing on the wall, and to show true leadership on this issue. There are precedents, even in Manitoba’s history. Duff Roblin, the 14th premier of Manitoba, passed away this weekend. He put his political reputation on the line to build a floodway that would protect future generations of Winnipeggers from a repeat of the devastating 1950 flood. Now nick-named “Duff’s Ditch”, the floodway was previously dubbed “Duff’s Folly” by his critics.  History vindicated Mr. Roblin’s foresight and courage. Where is the Duff Roblin of this generation, a politician willing to put his or her political reputation on the line to protect future generations?

photo by Deb Loewen

“Province Reels from Downpour: Heavy Rains Overload Backup Systems” Winnipeg Free Press

Storm Clean-Up Starts In Southern Manitoba“. CBC.ca

Why The ‘Never Seen Before’ Fargo Flooding is Just What You’d Expect From Climate Change” Climate Progress

Climate Accountability Act Needs Support From Politicians With Vision

If you feel moved to action, contact our Canadian Senators and encourage them to pass Bill C311, The Climate Accountability Act, to move Canada from a laggard to a leader in addressing climate change. Click here for more information.