Prime Minister Stephen Harper has agreed to an NDP demand to put his Clean Air Act before a Commons committee, where the opposition will try to change it radically.
NDP Leader Jack Layton made the demand during a meeting with Harper late Tuesday, saying the minority Conservative bill was "dead in the water" because the opposition parties would vote it down.
Layton threatened to put a non-confidence motion before the Commons on Thursday if Harper refused his demand.
The bill will now go through the unusual step of being reviewed by an all-party committee before second reading, where it's expected to be overhauled by critics who say it doesn't do enough to slow global warming.
Cynicism aside, Layton’s gambit appears to be paying off. No matter what Harper’s motivations, this government has now committed himself to high-profile negotiations in committee. Any failure to reach agreement will undermine the Conservative position, as the opposition will rally around drastic change. If Harper is using this olive branch for simple appearances, then this process will expose the manipulation.
Good on Layton. Potentially good for the environment. I don’t see the negative in all party discussion to formulate an acceptable agenda. Compared to the alternative of nothing, a positive development indeed.