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Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Bill

In a surprise move, Conservative Senators defeated Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act 43 to 32 without debate and before being sent to committee. This action on November 16th is very rare. The last time something like this happened was 70 years ago when a bill passed by elected representatives in the House of Commons was voted down in second read in the Senate.

Now in the weeks leading to the climate summit in Cancun, the Canadian government has further demonstrated its disinterest in meaningful action on one of the most pressing problem of our time.

This troubling development also sets a dangerous precedent, calling to questions future legislation supported by elected Members of Parliament.

I urge you to contact your MP, the Prime Minister, the leaders of the opposition parties and Senators, and Marjory LeBreton, Leader of the Government in the Senate. Write letters to the editor. Let citizens know about this dangerous precedent on Facebook and Twitter. Ask the questions:

• Why did unelected Conservative Senators delay due process on legislation supported by elected representatives?
• Why did they call the surprise vote without debate and committee review, when many opposition Senators were unavailable to vote?
• Why is Prime Minister Stephen Harper stacking the Senate with Conservative Senators, and not introducing legislation to enable Canadians to vote for Senators as he promised he would do during the 2004 election?
• Will unelected Conservative Senators choose this tactic to kill future legislation, supported by elected representatives, that Harper does not like?

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Senator Email Addresses

[email protected] - Marjory LeBreton, Leader of the Government in the Senate

[email protected] - bill critic

[email protected] - Senator Mitchell, defender of the bill

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If you prefer to mail letters (postage to Senators is free), the address is:
 
 
The Senate of Canada
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A4
 
 
History of Bill C-311 
Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act passed third reading in the House of Commons on May 5th, 2010. Conservative MPs voted against it, while the majority of Opposition MPs supported it. For a breakdown on how the Parties voted, click here
 
On June 1st, Senator Grant Mitchell moved and defended the bill. Senator Banks further defended the bill on June 8th. To read the transcript of the debate on June 1st, click here, and June 8th, click here
 
If passed into law, the Act would have required the Canadian federal government to set regulations to bring emissions 25% below 1990 levels by 2020, and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The Act would have required the government to produce five year target plans, establish independent reviews and punish polluters who break regulations.
 
Conservative Senators were stalling debate on the bill leading up to the surprise vote on November 16th. Senators were supposed to resume debate on it when they returned from recess in late September.
 
The Liberals raised this delaying tactic with the Conservatives twice during the Senate's Question Period:
September 27 - Senator Cowan (Leader of the Opposition)
 
  
Of Note
 
Progressive Conservatives demonstrated great environmental leadership during the Mulroney years. Of the Independent Senators, one was appointed by Trudeau, the other by Mulroney. Of the Conservatives, 13 were appointed by Mulroney, nominated the 'greenest Prime Minister' by Corporate Knights. 
 
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce called on its members to lobby the Senate to oppose the Bill.
 
 
 
 

 

 

 
 

 

 

Recently Updated
NDP Sample Letter to Targeted Senators Last Updated on 2010-11-06 08:41:31 The NDP provides this sample letter to targeted Senators, whose names and contact details follow: Dear Senator XXXX, Like many Canadians, I have been watching with great interest the process of Bill C-311—the Climate Change Accountability Act. I was very encouraged to see our federal parties work across party lines to pass this important bill in the House of Commons. I am writing to you to ask that you do the same.   Canadians agree that climate change is the defining challenge of our time. Without urgent action, the consequences for our children and grandchildren will be dire. That is why we all have a responsibility to act. The Climate Change Accountability Act is Canada’s best hope for science-based reductions to greenhouse gas emissions, as well as a mechanism to ensure these targets are met.   I respectfully encourage you and your Senate colleagues to... More »
Targeted message to Independent Senators Last Updated on 2010-09-19 12:36:44 There are two Independent Senators, Senator Rivest and Senator Cools. The letter to Senator Rivest is just below. Click here for the letter to Senator Cools.     Send to: [email protected]   Dear Senator Rivest,   I am writing to you today requesting your support for Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act. On May 5th, all opposition MPs, except for one, voted in support of the Bill.   As Senate appointee of Prime Minister Mulroney, you are no doubt aware of his environmental legacy. Named the Greenest PM by Corporate Knights, Prime Minister Mulroney recognized the great environmental challenges of his time – acid rain, biodiversity loss and climate change, and demonstrated great statesmanship in addressing these problems.   He did not wait for the United States to act first. On leadership, he had this to say:... More »
Targeted Message to Conservative Senators Appointed by Mulroney, Clark or Liberal PM Last Updated on 2010-09-19 12:29:55 Contacts below   Dear [Conservative Senator],   I am writing to you today requesting your support for Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act.   As a Conservative Senator you are no doubt aware of Prime Minister Mulroney’s environmental legacy. Named the Greenest PM by Corporate Knights, Prime Minister Mulroney recognized the great environmental challenges of his time – acid rain, biodiversity loss and climate change, and demonstrated great statesmanship in addressing these problems.   He did not wait for the United States to act first. On leadership, he had this to say: “So there are three elements to Canada playing an important role on the environment: First, leading by example, claiming the high ground.  Second, engaging the Americans, and at the highest level of government.  Third, involving industry in... More »
Targetted Message to Progressive Conservative Senators Last Updated on 2010-09-19 12:18:12 There are two Progressive Conservative Senators: Senator McCoy and Senator Murray. The letter to Senator McCoy is just below. Click here for the letter to Senator Murray       Send to: [email protected]    Dear Senator McCoy,   I am writing to you today requesting your support for Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act.   As a Progressive Conservative, you carry with you a tradition of environmental stewardship and leadership. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, named the Greenest PM by Corporate Knights, provided that leadership during his term in office. He recognized the great environmental challenges of his time – acid rain, biodiversity loss and climate change, and demonstrated great statesmanship in addressing these problems.   He did not wait for the United States to act first. On leadership,... More »
Targeted Message to Liberal Senators Last Updated on 2010-09-19 11:53:05   Contacts below Dear [Liberal Senator], I thank the Liberal Party for its leadership in one of the most pressing challenges of our time – climate change. On May 5th, Liberal MPs unanimously voted in support of Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act. Speaking in Laval just before the Copenhagen Summit, Michael Ignatieff had this to say: “I would like to see Canada fighting for a firm international agreement to reduce carbon pollution, based on scientific facts…. Let’s be clear. In Copenhagen, I would have supported an agreement by all countries on the planet in favour of measurable, verifiable, and binding targets to reduce carbon pollution.” Unfortunately, Conservative MPs do not share this leadership or vision at this time. Not only did the government fail us in Copenhagen, Conservative MPs unanimously voted against the Bill. I... More »