Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tomorrow, a federal court will examine whether Baird can defy the will of Parliament.

Tomorrow Canada will become the first country to be brought to court for its failure to comply with domestic law and meet its international commitments to combat global warming.

Friends of the Earth (FOE) will be in a Federal Court in Toronto, asking a judge to compel the Conservative government to follow the climate-change law that was passed in Parliament last June.

The Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act (KPIA), was a Liberal private members bill, put forth by Paul Martin, that went into law in June 2007. It requires the government to meet its targets under the Kyoto Protocol and submit a plan showing how it would do so.

As a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol Canada is expected, starting this past January 2008 through 2012 to reduce it’s greenhouse gases by 6% from the base levels set in 1990 (592 megatonnes of carbon dioxide) and the KPIA law requires the government to do so.

Government lawyers have filed papers stating that meeting Kyoto targets would plunge Canada into a "severe recession.''
"Canada's gross domestic product would be reduced by 6.5 per cent, $51 billion of national economic activity would be lost, with 276,000 jobs lost, and per capita income reductions of 2.9 per cent in 2009,''
The Conservatives have proposed their own plan to tackle climate change which would see emissions cut 20 per cent from 2006 levels by 2020. 
But critics point out that the Tory plan is less stringent than the Kyoto targets since it uses 2006 as its baseline year, when emissions were 721 megatonnes of carbon dioxide.
This KPIA case raises the fundamental question of whether a Minister of the Crown, in this case Baird, the Minister of Environment, is accountable for ignoring the will of Parliament. 

FOE submits that Baird has defied the will of Parliament and dispensed with the rule of law by refusing to comply with the mandatory requirements of the KPIA. 

A Ecojustice lawyer Hugh Wilkins, who is working with Friends of the Earth points out.
“It's really a case about accountability and adherence to the rule of law. A simple case requiring the government to comply with the law.”
Garry Keller, Environment Minister John Baird's director of communications, who was contacted for the Canadian Press article, could not comment on cases before the courts. He did apparently take a swipe at the opposition parties for passing "feel-good bills that don't actually accomplish anything on climate change.''

Feel good or not, "for the government to openly say that they will not follow the laws of Parliament is tantamount to saying they will not obey the rule of law" noted University of Ottawa law professor Errol Mendes.

Martin's bill compelling the government to meet it's existing Kyoto targets is the law of the land. And Jack Layton's newly passed bill compelling the government to to gradually cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050 will be also, once it passes the Senate.

Since this is not getting a lot of main stream press, I would assume that the  the Tories are expected to get this case thrown out and we will continue to have a government that basically believes they do not have to follow the laws of the land.

Since the Liberal party is not yet willing to bring this arrogant government down, you would think that they could at least start raising some questions in Parliament about the Tories not obeying the law. And ask them loud enough and often enough that it actually makes the news. 


Not that I'm a legal expert or anything like that, but it seems like a important point to me.


From the Canadian Press here and Friends of the Earth here.

3 comments:

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JimBobby said...

"Tomorrow, a federal court will examine whether Baird can defy the will of Parliament."

The day after tomorrow, parliament will examine whether Baird can defy the will of a federal court.

The Con's have set themselves above the law. Somehow, they feel their 36% share of the 2006 popular vote gave them a mandate to ignore the other 64% and to ignore the ideals of representative democracy.

JB

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm a jurist and feel that this is a very important issue and should be talked about loudly and non-stop. The blatant disregard to the rule of law displayed by these ReformaTories scares me. It is not "they" who scare me, rather the complacence displayed by the MSM in this regard, and the hardcore conservative-base that is probably rejoicing in these times, not understanding that ultimately, they are enabling this government to destroy our democracy.

Ever read Naomi Wolf's "The End of America"?

In The End of America Wolf takes a historical look at the rise of fascism, outlining the 10 steps necessary for a state to take control of individuals' lives:

1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy.
2. Create secret prisons where torture takes place.
3. Develop a thug caste or paramilitary force not answerable to citizens.
4. Set up an internal surveillance system.
5. Harass citizens' groups.
6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release.
7. Target key individuals.
8. Control the press.
9. Treat all political dissents as traitors.
10. Suspend the rule of law.

The book explains how this pattern was followed in Nazi Germany and Mussolini's Italy as well as elsewhere, and compares it to the current state of affairs in American Political power since September 11, 2001.