The opposition parties teamed up Wednesday topass a privatemember'sbill that requires the government to meet international Kyoto targets — despite the Conservatives' attempt to kill the bill hours before the vote.
The bill,which was introduced 10 months ago by Liberal backbencher Pablo Rodriguez, gives the government 60 days to table a detailed plan outlining how Canada will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
The bill, backed by the NDP and the Bloc Québécois, passed 161-113 on Wednesday night. All the Conservatives who were present voted against it.
"I declare the motion passed," Speaker Peter Milliken said.
The bill urges the government to create fines and jail terms for businesses and industries that over-pollute.
Under the international Kyoto protocol, which was signed by Canada under a previous Liberal government in 1998 and ratified in 2002, the country agreed to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by six per cent from 1990 levels by 2012.
After Stephen Harper and the Conservatives won the 2006 election, they saidCanada's Kyoto commitments were not achievable within the 2012 deadline andwoulddevastate the economy.
Tories tried to get bill declared invalid
Several hours before the vote on Rodriguez's bill on Wednesday, the Speaker turned down a Conservative appeal to have the bill declared invalid.
The Tories argued the bill would force the government to spend money against its will, but Milliken said the bill contained no specific spending measures.
Rodriguez has said that his bill,which is expected to be passed by the Liberal-dominated Senate, would compel the government to act.
"They are bound to it. It's the law of the land," Rodriguez said before the vote. "The prime minister cannot cherry pick laws. He's not the new emperor of Canada.
"The government has to respect it and implement it. If not, we go to the courts," he said.
Rodriguez insisted the bill isn't part of a political game and that it would apply to the Liberals if they win the next election.
However, Environment Minister John Baird says there are no consequences or penalties if the conditions of the bill aren't followed.
"It's really a toothless tiger. All it does is talk about more plans and more studies … we need real action," he said before the vote.
David Docherty, a professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, said it will be up to the opposition to enforce the bill — if it becomes law — and the government doesn't meet the deadline for action.
"Well, if they don't come up with a plan in 60 days, I guess the question is then, how far is the opposition willing to go to make them do that?" Docherty said.
Docherty said the opposition could hold a non-confidence vote if the Conservatives ignore the legislation, but he isn't convinced all three parties are eager to trigger a spring election.
Earlier this month, the House of Commons passed a non-binding motion calling on the government to honour the Kyoto commitments. Harper didn't attend the vote.