OTTAWA — Opposition MPs had better hope for a seat sale if they want to go to the next round of international climate talks.
Environment Minister Peter Kent says the opposition parties will not be part of Canada’s official delegation at a UN-led meeting in South Africa later this month.
So if they want to take the Tories to task, they will have to pay their own way.
“It’s our government’s decision with regards to this conference,” Kent said Wednesday.
Canada’s delegation will include members of the governing Conservative party, as well as business leaders and other experts.
Taxpayers will still pick up the tab for the official delegation, but Kent says the group will be smaller than in past years.
Kent says he does not see any value in bringing his political rivals along to meetings.
“We have seen, and I would expect, no helpful comment from the opposition environment critics in what will be for us a challenging COP 17,” he said, referring to the highest body of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Those meetings will run from Nov. 28 through Dec. 9.
At previous conferences, environmental activists have foisted so-called fossil awards on Canada for allegedly blocking progress on a climate deal.
Opposition MPs have been included in climate talks some years and excluded in others.
Green party Leader Elizabeth May asked Kent in the House of Commons if the government would let opposition MPs be part of the delegation if they paid their own freight.
“The accreditation process is a stroke of the pen,” May said.
“Where opposition members of Parliament are prepared to pay their own way, will the government commit to ensuring that opposition members of Parliament go to Durban as representatives of Canada?”
Kent said he would think about it.
Meanwhile, he also announced that Canada and the United States are in talks over regulations to curb greenhouse-gas emissions from cars and light trucks for model years 2017 and beyond.
The two countries have already struck an agreement for earlier model years.