Senate kills Climate Change Accountability Act

'Stephen Harper has done what he always promised never to do – use unelected officials to counter the will of Parliament and the Canadian public.' - Graham Saul.

Ottawa (17 Nov. 2010) - The Climate Change Accountability Act - Bill C-311 twice won the support of elected members of Parliament, reflecting the views of the majority of Canadians who have been demanding stronger action on climate change.

Despite this, the Harper Conservatives used their new unelected majority in the Senate this week to vote down C-311 even before members of the upper house had time to debate or consider it. 

In a trick procedural move, the Conservatives called for a sudden vote on Bill C-311 while many Liberal Senators were missing. Although there is precedent for ambushing absent members in Parliament, the fact that the bill was called for a vote before any debate had taken place was unprecedented.

Some MPs reported that Conservative senators were ordered not to speak on the bill at any time during the 193 days it was before the Senate. Even the Conservative speaker of the Senate was told to vote against the bill.

"This reckless approach to climate change must stop. Global warming is an urgent problem that requires urgent solutions," says Graham Saul, executive director of Climate Action Network Canada (CAN-C).

"Stephen Harper has done what he always promised never to do – use unelected officials to counter the will of Parliament and the Canadian public," Saul notes.

"As we head into the United Nations climate talks in Cancun later this month, it is unacceptable that Canada's only climate change legislation has been defeated after years of majority support from our elected members of parliament and their constituents."

Canada is the only country in the industrialize world to:

  • sign and ratify the Kyoto protocol and then announce that it has no intention of honouring its commitments;
  • return from Copenhagen and announce that it is weakening its targets;
  • allow its only major federal program supporting renewable energy to run out of money;
  • allow its only major federal program supporting home efficiency to run out of money; and
  • actively work to weaken climate change policy in the United States and Europe.

"The Harper government has been repeatedly promising to regulate industry and doing nothing in practice, all the while handing out billions of dollars in tax breaks to some of the biggest oil companies in the world," says Saul.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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