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This article was published 17/11/2010 (3661 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper has turned back the clock on Canada's democracy after allowing unelected Conservative senators to use their majority to kill climate-change legislation adopted by a majority of MPs in the House of Commons, NDP Leader Jack Layton said Wednesday.
Conservative senators used a procedural tactic Tuesday night to scrap the bill, adopted in the Commons last spring in a vote of 149 to 136, without allowing it to be examined in Senate hearings or debated in the Senate chamber.
"That is totally contrary to the constitutional tradition of this country," said Layton, standing with his caucus in front of the Senate chamber on Parliament Hill.
"It is totally contradictory and every Canadian should now be worried because these senators are here for one heck of a long time. And what's going to be next? What bill, representing the will of Canadians, is this Senate going to stop next? This Senate should be abolished. It should be ashamed of itself."
The Climate Change Accountability Act, introduced by the NDP, was also previously adopted by the Commons but died on the order paper when Harper called the 2008 election. NDP MP Bruce Hyer sponsored the latest version of the bill that calls on the government to adopt science-based targets for reducing pollution linked to global warming and to regularly report results and effectiveness of its policies.
Harper used to rail at appointed Liberal senators who dared to defy "the democratic will of the elected House."
But he made no apologies Wednesday.
Harper said the bill would have shut down whole sections of the economy and thrown "hundreds of thousands and possibly million of people out of work." He advised Layton to support the government's Senate reform bills if he doesn't like the way the unelected body is behaving. Harper said there should be no surprise about Conservatives voting against the legislation, Bill C-311.
"Conservatives have been very consistent and very clear in their opposition to Bill C-311, a completely irresponsible bill," said Harper in the House of Commons. "It sets irresponsible targets, does not lay out any measure of achieving them, other than by shutting down sections of the Canadian economy and throwing hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of people out of work."
The government made similar threats about job losses because of opposition legislation calling on the government to introduce a plan to honour its commitments under the international Kyoto Protocol climate-change agreement and report on its progress. But environmental groups have noted the Kyoto legislation forces the government to be accountable and transparent, often being forced to reveal when it is overstating estimates or impacts of its policies.
-- Postmedia News / The Canadian Press