Members of Parliament voted Monday in favour of a motion from Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion that reaffirms Canada's support for the Kyoto Protocol.
Members of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government followed party orders and voted unanimously against it, but 161 MPs voted in favour and 115 against the motion. Harper was not present for the vote.
Dion's non-binding motion, which was introduced Feb. 1, demands the government "honour the principles and targets of the Kyoto Protocol in their entirety," and calls on the Tories to create and publish a credible plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Monday's vote on the motion has no effect except that it puts MPs on the record. However, another vote on an opposition bill that would commit the government to Kyoto is expected in a couple of weeks.
Hours before the vote, Dion and Harper engaged in spirited debate over climate change during question period.
Dion urged Harper and the Conservatives to get on side, saying the Liberal motion was counting on the government to recognize that climate change is "the worst ecological threat" that humanity is facing, and that Canada needs to meet its Kyoto obligations with a comprehensive plan to fight global warming.
Dion asked Harper to acknowledge that he was wrong on climate change and that he vote in favour of the motion.
Harper responded by criticizing Dion for making the motion in the first place, particularly when Dion had admitted in recent months that the Kyoto targets could not be achieved.
"He needs to get his own position straight," Harper said to wide applause.
Last Thursday, Dion tabled the motion calling on the Tory government to reaffirm Canada's commitment to the accord, which was signed by the Liberals when they were in power.
The motion came as both parties hammer each other on their environmental record, and follows the recent surfacing of a letter Harper wrote in 2002 that derided the Kyoto accord.
The letter described Kyoto as a "socialist scheme" that is based on "tentative and contradictory scientific evidence" and designed to suck money out of rich countries.
Harper has since said he accepts the science of climate change, but that Canada has no chance of meeting its emissions targets under the accord and must set more realistic goals for reducing greenhouse gases.
Canada was one of the first countries to sign the Kyoto accord, on April 29, 1998. The Tories have said that the Liberals may have signed the agreement, but did nothing while in power to combat greenhouse gas emissions.
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