You could see this one coming a few days ago, when John Baird insisted that the Torys had no plans to withdraw from the Kyoto accord. And this morning the Natty Post's John Ivison is reporting that:
There are rumblings that when the Conservatives bring out their new regulations on industrial emissions next month, the language will be decidedly softer on Kyoto.
"I'm certainly detecting a sense that, instead of differentiating themselves from the Liberals on Kyoto, they will present their plan simply as a better version of the same thing," said one source close to the government.
Good news? Maybe, but it now looks like the new and improved, opposition-party-crafted Clean Air Act, will
....be allowed to die quietly on the order paper and be buried in an unmarked grave.
As a government bill, the Tories will simply not call it to a vote, and render the whole committee process a monumental waste of time and taxpayers' money.
If true, this will prove what many suspected: that Harper is not brave enough, or dumb enough, to fight an election on environmental issues. Instead, he will
...refrain from introducing fresh legislation, but will simply bring forward regulations on emissions that can be incorporated into existing environmental legislation.
The Conservatives will probably call for big emitters to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to 20% below 2004 levels by 2020.
...which might be fine. The important thing is here is always when these emitters have to start cutting GWGs (and whether these cuts are absolute or merely cuts in "intensity"), not some date over a decade down the road when they are supposed to achieve a goal most of today's politicians won't be in office to witness. So once again we will have the Torys repackaging Liberal initiatives after a delay, and with less philosophical coherence.
The most interesting question is, how do rank and file Torys handle this flip-flop of "Dionesque" (as Ivison calls it) proportions? Well, thus far the Blogging Tories have been willing, if Harper claims the world is square on Tuesday, to walk around arguing that the world is square. And if on Friday Harper changes his mind and argues that the world is a rhomboid, they've been willing to go into the weekend saying that the world is a rhomboid. So, their budget beefs aside, I suspect for the most part they'll be fine with it. As a Liberal supporter, I watched for over a decade as the party raped my principles, and eventually got tired of it. These guys are still virgins to power. To them it still feels like Love.