“That this House: (a) agree with many Canadians and the International Energy Agency that there is grave concern with the impacts of a 2 degree rise in global average temperatures; (b) condemn the lack of effective action by successive federal governments since 1998 to address emissions and meet our Kyoto commitments; and (c) call on the government to immediately table its federal climate change adaptation plan.”Unsurprisingly, the Conservatives, Liberals and sole Green Party MP Elizabeth May all voted against this motion. Obviously the NDP didn't think for a second the Liberals were going to vote for a motion that condemns their own governments between 1998 and 2006 and Elizabeth May has objected on the obvious grounds that the motion only calls on the government to table an "adaptation plan" rather than an action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The NDP are quick out of the gate with items like this, grouping the Liberals and Conservatives together as is their wont. I'm not impressed with the whole thing, it's beneath the NDP for one thing and speaking as a voter who could be persuaded to vote NDP instead of Liberal, this does nothing to inform me about actual, meaningful policy differences between the two parties on an issue I care deeply about, climate change.
I am all for the NDP finding ways to inform Canadians about important distinctions between themselves and the other left-of-centre parties so that when 2015 comes around they can fight for the largest share of that ~65% of the public that won't vote Conservative, but this doesn't seem helpful to that end. It doesn't tell me any actual salient difference between the Greens, NDP and Liberals on the climate issue. That both other parties have such obvious outs to vote against this motion makes it ineffective as a tool to prove that the NDP line on either the Greens or Liberals is accurate (the usual line being that both are effectively conservative parties and not true progressive institutions).
Lest I be accused of concern trolling, I'll say I really would like to know if Justin Trudeau would take meaningful action on the climate if elected in 2015. I fear he won't, and would like it if the NDP finds ways to force him to take significant policy stands that allay or confirm that fear. Asking him to have his party condemn the Chretien and Martin governments (much as they deserve condemnation on this file) isn't going to do that. Ethics of the thing aside, if Trudeau had somehow had his party support this motion, the news coverage would be all about the meta-story of the Liberals voting to condemn their own past governments, not about the climate issue.
Maybe I'm not the target audience and this will be very effective at, well, tricking, less politically aware voters who have the environment as a top-of-mind issue and don't read past the headlines. But it doesn't work on me, and strikes me as the stereotypical form of holier-than-thou progressivism that the NDP is often criticized for. It's not the biggest deal in the world, just some petty political positioning and attack-ad fodder, but even describing it that way is to repeat that the NDP should be better than this.