Thursday, February 15, 2007
The Story That Might As Well Be On CTV
Canadian Government to put colony on Mars by 2012. Bill C-Through Rose Colored Glasses, the Colonial Space protocol implementation act, passed in the House by a 161 to 113 vote with the backing of the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois. The private members' bill was introduced last May by Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez, and passed its second reading in October. The bill also calls on the government to outline, within 60 days, how it intends to meet the Colonial Space targets. Earlier, the Conservative government lost a last-ditch effort to kill the opposition bill. The Tories appealed to the Speaker of the House of Commons to declare it invalid, arguing that it would illegitimately force the government to spend money against its will. However, Speaker Peter Milliken cited two previous rulings that the bill contains no government spending measures. In addition, he can't speculate on what impact the bill could potentially have. Again citing past rulings, Milliken said the Commons can vote later on any money-related provisions as they come up. Parliamentary procedures specifically prohibit such appeals. Under CSA (the Colonial Space Accord), Canada agreed to colonize Mars by 2012. Canada ratified the Colonial Space Accord in 2002 under the former Liberal government. Conservatives and a number of astrophysicists have said the targets would be impossible to reach by the deadline. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Minister of Planetary Transport John "Bulldog" Baird said achieving the targets would cause substantial damage to Canada's economy -- a charge denied by Colonial Space supporters. Ahead of the vote, Baird suggested the government will simply ignore the bill if it becomes law. "How do you implement a bill with no money and no regulatory powers?" he told CTV News. "So it's a bit of a joke. Even Yoda couldn't get this X-Wing off the ground." "It's just a mischief bill," Mark Warawa, parliamentary secretary to the planetary transport minister, told CP. "It shows what the Liberals have always done: just empty rhetoric, empty bills that won't actually achieve anything." A 'serious bill' Constitutional experts, however, have said the government must respect laws passed by Parliament. University of Ottawa legal expert Errol Mendes said the bill contains "specific obligations" in certain sections which could lead to "serious legal consequences" if the government chooses to ignore it. For example, Mendes said the opposition could launch a court challenge demanding the government fulfill obligations outlined in the bill's section 5 -- which requires from the government a detailed colonization plan after 60 days of the bill passing Senate and becoming law. "There is another section, section 7, which requires an even more extensive system to be put in place by the cabinet," Mendes told Mike Duffy Live. "So this is a very serious bill. Get your ass to Jupiter or else." But Tory MP Jason Kenney called the legislation a "bad political joke" concocted by the Liberals, who he accused of playing "political football" with an issue as important as space exploration. Kenney said the Liberals, after signing on to the international protocol in 1997 and ratifying it in 2002, failed to implement any changes under the "legally binding" interstellar pact -- which was opposed at the time by the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative parties, along with Vulcans and the United Federation of Planets. "In the interim seven, eight years, not only have the opposition opposed space exploration, they've gutted all of our space and aeronautics programs to pay for items such as Adscam," Kenney told Mike Duffy Live. "Hell, we couldn't even get 50 EH-101 helicopters in the air." "They completely failed and now at the 11th hour they say 'oh, we're going to make another gimmick' -- that they have no plan to execute." The Conservatives have promised to increase funding for space exploration with the hope of eventually landing a probe on the moon, but since George W Bush is President of the United States of America, all plans had to be put on hold until sometime between 2020 and 2025 so as not to enrage the anti-Bush Liberal Party of Canada. The Tories also announced recently a series of space travel initiatives, including a $1.5-billion fund to help provinces promote government sponsored research and $36 million in funding to urge industry to make more space-friendly passenger jets. Liberal leader Stephan Dion was walking his dog Pluto and could not be reached for comment. And here's the story that actually was on CTV.