Canada. According to
CountryAAH, the Supreme Court ruled on February 23 that
legislation that made it possible to keep terror suspected
foreign nationals in prison indefinitely or to expel them by
referring to secret evidence contravened the Constitution.
The court did not agree. However, the Conservative minority
government was given a year to change the legislation.
Environmental policy came into focus during the year.
Stephen Harper's government, which previously showed no
great interest in these issues, made several pledges in the
spring about a more active policy to counter global climate
change. In January, Harper appointed John Baird as the
Minister of the Environment. In April, he promised a new
climate strategy, which meant that Canada would reduce its
greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020. At the same
time, the government received criticism from environmental
organizations for failing to fulfill its commitments to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions that Canada had undertaken
when one signed under the Kyoto Protocol. According to this,
the country would reduce its emissions to 6 percent of the
1990 level, in fact it was about 30 percent above (much due
to the extraction of oil sands in the province of Alberta).
Even with the new and tougher rules one would not be able to
fulfill the conditions. Baird, however, claimed that the
former Liberal government from 1993 to 2006 bore much of the
blame for this.
In July, the federal government agreed with the Creole
people in northwestern Quebec on an agreement that gave the
Indians $ 1.4 billion over a twenty-year period. The money
would go towards building up limited self-government as well
as care and economic development. The Cree people have had a
protracted dispute with the government since 1975, which it
accused of failing to fulfill earlier promises.
The unusually mild weather caused the ice in the Arctic
to melt, which meant that the Northwest Passage between the
Atlantic and the Pacific was ice-free in September,
something that has not happened before in the 500 years that
have been documented. Competition increased over who would
control the Arctic, which today is governed by a series of
international treaties. In August, Russia placed a flag on
the seabed just over 4 km below the North Pole. Canada,
Denmark, Norway and the US have also claimed areas under the
pole, where gas and oil are believed to be present. Canada
claims that the Northwest Passage is located on Canadian
territory while the United States considers it international
Canada's participation in the US-led ISAF force in
Afghanistan is a sensitive domestic policy issue. It came to
light when Canadian military police at the beginning of the
year were accused of assaulting three Afghan prisoners in
connection with interrogations. The government decided in
February to launch a public inquiry into this. Shortly
thereafter, a Senate committee recommended that the country
reconsider its military involvement in Afghanistan unless
other NATO countries strengthened their forces there.
According to press reports in April, Harper had ignored
information that Taliban captured by Canadian forces had
been subjected to torture by Afghan security forces. The
number of Canadian casualties has risen sharply since Canada
took command of NATO operations in the troubled Qandahar
area in 2006.
During the fall, the government's policy on Afghanistan,
tax cuts and the environment was the subject of several
votes in the lower house. Harper's ministry was vulnerable
because it had only 126 of the 308 seats. In some of the
polls, the government was supported by the Bloc Québécois
(BQ) and the New Democratic Party (NDP), but in one case it
survived by the Liberal Party (LP) casting its votes. The
Liberals were behind the conservatives in the polls and did
not want a new election. The Conservatives also wanted to
wait for an election because the party did not think it
could get its own majority.
Several provincial elections were held during the year.
First out was Quebec on March 26. The election was a setback
for the governing liberals who received 48 seats, 25 fewer
than 2003. The next largest party unexpectedly became the
bourgeois and populist Action Démocratique du Québec (ADQ),
which wants greater autonomy for the province, with 41
seats, while the separatist Party Québécois (PQ) got 36. The
Liberals formed a minority government - the first in Quebec
On May 22, it was Manitoba's turn to hold elections. The
ruling NDP was re-elected with 36 of the 57 seats in the
provincial parliament. Six days later, the Liberals defeated
the Conservative Progressive Conservative Party (PCP) in
Prince Edward Island. The PCP had ruled the province since
1998. In September/October, 19 independent candidates were
elected to Parliament in the Northwest Territories. On
October 9, PCP won 43 of 48 seats in Newfoundland and
Labrador. The next day LP won again in Ontario with 71 of
the 107 seats. The following month, the Saskatchewan Civil
Party won 37 of 58 seats in the province of Saskatchewan and
thus was able to take over government power from the NDP.