Progressives shun Layton on climate change

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The Liberal Party under Stéphane Dion has lots of green t-shirts, but does not want to pass a climate change bill in co-operation with the other opposition parties. That would deprive them of what they expect to be their winning formula in the

How many times have I heard people castigating Jack Layton for not “allowing” an arrangement where the NDP and Greens cooperate to not run candidates against each other in certain ridings?

I know of multiple cases where Layton has personally been questioned on this — and where long-time activists go away shaking their heads about how he has sold out environmentalists to further the narrow electoral fortunes of the NDP.

Does anyone ask Elizabeth May if she favours such an arrangement? “Why no, because of course she would.”

You might try asking her. Because the arguments for the Green Party sticking to a complete 308 seat strategy are just as compelling as they are for the NDP. Ditto for the many real world problems that an arrangement with the NDP would cause for the Green Party.

But thanks to the infantile nature of the Canadian left, and some environmentalists, Elizabeth May can have it both ways. No problems of having a hobbling political arrangement with the NDP âe¦ and, without saying a word she gets conferred on her the credit and substantial political capital for a proposal she has never made!

I unequivocally welcomed the arrival of Elizabeth May as Green Party Leader as I welcomed Stéphane Dion winning the leadership of the Liberal Party. “More competition for the NDP on climate change action. Great.”

Competition for the NDP is one thing. An unwarranted and unwise kneecapping stampede by the Canadian left is another matter.

Case in point are the musings of Jim Laxer in a recent commentary in The Globe and Mail:

    The NDP could try to make the Prime Minister look better than he really is on the environment and possibly one or two other issues.

    Given Mr. Dion's strong showing in public opinion polls, Mr. Harper has as much interest in this as Mr. Layton. The Conservative and NDP leaders have already managed to find enough common ground on the environment to keep the government's clean-air bill alive in a Commons committee. They could take this a step further with a concession by Mr. Harper on greenhouse gas targets that the NDP could welcome as a first step.

    This would be a way for Mr. Harper to moderate his image in Ontario and Quebec and it would allow Mr. Layton to argue that the NDP caucus is getting things done for working families and seniors.

    The purpose of such a quiet arrangement is that it could help both the Conservatives and the NDP stave off a rush of Canadians to support the Dion Liberals.

“Could haveâe¦ seem toâe¦ could beâe¦”

In the fall, when Layton initiated bringing the Clean Air Act back to committee, the skepticism expressed by David Suzuki and others was to be expected: wouldn't we have been better off just letting Harper's legislation die, and the Conservative government with it?

But Laxer's musings come much later and go well beyond mere scepticism. Since the fall, Layton has said countless times that he wants a united front opposition party bill passed that includes an affirmation of our short-term Kyoto commitments, directly confronting a Harper government that refuses to negotiate its abandonment of those commitments.

The opposition parties have the votes to pass a bill, and agree on the substance of meeting our Kyoto commitments.

Layton has also said numerous times he has no interest in a compromise with Harper that in Laxer's words shows some [token] progress on greenhouse gas emissions while avoiding the crucial issue of the short-term Kyoto targets.

The day previous to Laxer's musings, Liberal environment critic John Godfrey repeated that “there was not time” for an opposition bill on climate change. Read: the Liberal Party does not want a climate change bill that the opposition parties could enact.

The Liberal Party under Stéphane Dion has lots of green t-shirts, but does not want to pass a climate change bill that is within the power of and consistent with the expressed policy of all of the opposition parties. They do not want this bill because it would deprive them of what they expect to be their winning formula in the election expected within months.

Now there seems to be placing of country and citizens before narrow partisan self-interest and it's coming from the same Liberals equally famous as trustworthy promulgators of progressive platforms they have “re-discovered” just in time for another election.

Excuse me folks, but that is a bona fide smoking gun the Liberals are holding.

Jack Layton wants to have the opposition parties jointly pass a replacement for the Clean Air Act with both short- and long-term targets for meeting Canada's Kyoto commitments.

But the Liberals do not want such a bill because they want the lack of one as a wedge issue between them and the Conservatives.

Maybe the Liberals do not intend once they are returned to their rightful ownership of the government to go slow on climate change as they did when Dion was the minister responsible. But Canadians will once again be left waiting to see what the Liberals will actually do.

You would think that environmentalists and the left would be clamouring for the opportunity to get the job done right now.

Instead we have the left continuously renewing the canard that Jack Layton is looking to prop up the Harper government for what is alleged to be the advantage of the NDP, in spite of what Layton actually says.

The Liberals are flat out telling people, repeatedly, that they are not interested in the opposition parties using their power to pass the climate change legislation they know Canadians want. The Liberal Party is spelling out that they really are in this for the short-term partisan brownie points.

And what have progressives said to such bald faced nerve?

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