No Clean Air Act yet

Elizabeth May

The Clean Air Act may be the most over announced and under-delivered legislation in Canadian history. The big announcement was trumpeted by Environment Minister Rona Ambrose on October 5th. She promised a Clean Air Act -- no details, just no Kyoto, and this instead....It was then re-announced on October 10th by Prime Minister Harper against a gorgeous Vancouver skyline, with, as Don Martin in the National Post noted, backed by a "jet load of Cabinet ministers playing the role usually filled by potted palms," in which the only new information was that the Clean Air Act would be tabled on October 17th. Well, that's TODAY and the news is, it is has been delayed.

It's not too much of a stretch to imagine that the government is scrambling after an August 1 DRAFT version of the Act was leaked by environmental groups to the press last Friday. (Kudos to Friends of the Earth, Sierra Club of Canada and Greenpeace Canada.)

The so-called "Clean Air Act" is a series of under-whelming amendments to the Canadian Environment Protection Act (see my opinion piece in the Globe pointing out that CEPA is the right Act to
use.) The Conservatives want to undermine CEPA by carving greenhouse gases (GHG) out of the section where they are now listed and creating a new section for air pollutants and GHG. I am waiting to see the final product before condemning this draft, but the draft is very very worrying and may set up regulations on air contaminants so that they will fail a constitutional challenge.

Speaking of court challenges, the Green Party had a victory!! On October 12, the Courts ruled in favour of small parties and we were one of the plaintiffs. We were actually supporting political parties smaller than we are, but the impact is to increase funding for the Green Party as well. Congratulations to Jim Harris for initiating this action.