Federal Conservative senators have defeated a private-member’s bill on climate change that was passed by the majority of MPs in the House of Commons, marking the first time Prime Minister Stephen Harper has used the clout he has built in the Upper Chamber to kill a law his minority government does not support.
The defeat by unelected senators of the bill known as the Climate Change Accountability Act, which was introduced in the House by New Democrat MP Bruce Hyer, prompted cries of indignation from NDP Leader Jack Layton and the Liberals who sponsored it in the Senate.
It also announced a change of attitude on the part of Mr. Harper who, when the Liberals dominated the Senate, often railed against the possibility that unelected senators would kill, delay or alter bills that elected politicians had passed in the Commons.
Mr. Layton reminded Mr. Harper during the daily Question Period of his previous assertion that every prime minister has a moral obligation to respect the will of the House. “That is what he said,” the NDP Leader told the Commons. “So why did he order his senators in the other place to kill the climate change bill that was adopted by the majority of MPs in this House?”
Mr. Harper replied that his Conservative Party has been consistent in its opposition to Bill C-311, which, he said, was a “completely irresponsible” piece of legislation.
“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,” Mr. Harper said.