Cap-and-trade at any cost?

Earlier this week, DeSmogBlog's Richard Littlemore wrote an article criticizing the provincial New Democrats for voting against the Campbell administration cap-and-trade legislation. In an interview, Mr. Littlemore confirmed he wasn't aware the New Democrats' opposition to that legislation was motivated by its secrecy. But, in an update to that article, Mr. Littlemore states "the government withdrew the secrecy provisions" in the bill "before the final, contrary vote." Indeed, the government did amend provisions that would have overriden the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. But what that amendment didn't address was provisions giving cabinet the authority to determine the specifics of that system - "behind closed doors" in the words of New Democrat leader Carole James.

Indeed, in his final statement in the legislature on the bill, the party's environment critic Shane Simpson expressed regret the government didn't do so, stating, "I think what we would have to say is that this legislation really doesn't offer us anything of substance, and it would be much more helpful for the government to have taken this bill away, to have worked through the (Western Climate Initiative), to have brought back a substantive piece of legislation that we could have supported. But we can't support a blank cheque. That's unfortunate, because cap-and-trade is a critical area for us to go."

In an interview with Public Eye today, Mr. Simpson reiterated that message: "What we said from the time - and if anybody goes back to read the speeches in the legislative debate - we were very clear that we were supportive of a cap-and-trade system, we believe that cap-and-trade is the way to go. But we also thought that enabling legislation was not the answer here. We wanted something that was substantive, in terms of the content of the system that we were supporting."

"Were we supporting an option system? What kind of threshholds were being supported? None of that information was in the legislation at all," he continued. "All of that was to be done by order-in-council or regulation in the cabinet room. We simply weren't prepared to allow that level of secrecy and unaccountable decision-making by the Campbell Liberals."

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