OTTAWA – The Liberals fought fiercely on Monday to prolong study of the government's centrepiece environmental legislation, a bill they have already rejected as worthless.
After some three hours of squabbling at a special committee set up to study the Clean Air Act, the Liberals and Bloc Quebecois joined to defer a deadline to March 30 rather than March 19 as proposed by the NDP.
Okay, let's be frank, partisanship aside. I have come to the conclusion that the Liberals are more interested in delaying any environmental legislation until after the budget, because it suits their preferred non-confidence strategy. I have also come to the conclusion that Layton is in such a hurry because if he can broker an effective deal, he achieves the political cover to actually support the budget with some credibility. The Liberals don't want the NDP to support the budget, the best way too guarantee that, don't give Layton anything on the environment. The budget will then have to be voted on based on simple merit, which causes obvious problems for Layton. If your goal is too bring down the government, you can't have this pesky environmental legislation introducing too many unknowns.
Why do the Liberals want to introduce 40 witnesses to the committee? Why does the NDP want to hear from virtually no one and immediately start writing final drafts? Both parties are now playing a political dance, trying to out flank the other as the budget looms. No party can claim pure motivations, no one should have the arrogance to tell Canadians the environment is the only concern, clearly the environment is a political football. It's hard to take any of these people seriously, especially when they do such a poor job of masking their narrow self-interest.