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Harper Agrees To NDP Environment Plan Request

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has agreed to a request from NDP Leader Jack Layton regarding the minority government’s widely criticized environment plan.

The PM will put the Conservatives’ Clean Air Act before a Commons committee where opposition parties will come up with their own ideas on how to improve it.

Layton made the demand Tuesday during a meeting with Harper, suggesting the bill was “dead in the water” because opposition parties wouldn’t support it.

The New Democrat chief even threatened to put a motion of non-confidence in the government before the Commons Thursday if Harper didn’t acquiesce.

It appears, for now, that that won’t happen since the bill is going to be reviewed by an all-party committee before its second reading. The committee will likely try to overhaul the plan, since Layton and others feel it doesn’t do enough to slow global warming.

The Environment Ministry’s plan calls for the long-term reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, but doesn’t contain any short-term targets.

Layton tabled a private member’s bill Tuesday that would set five-year targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions with a commitment to cut them by 80 percent (compared to 1990 levels) by the year 2050.

It’s unclear what committee will review the bill.

And though the move appears to be in line with what the NDP had asked for, it may only serve to stall a confrontation between parties in the Commons since there’s no guarantee the minority Conservatives will agree to an overhaul.