The Conservatives have already demonstrated that they're prepared to use the Afghan mission for political advantage by barring travel there by opposition members, so it's hardly surprising that John Baird, one of the most partisan members of this government would exclude the opposition from participating at an extremely significant UN conference on global warming. If there's ever an opening for a partisan advantage to be taken by this government, they're all over it.
There'll be no room for opposition MPs in the Canadian government's inn at next month's crucial climate-change talks in Bali, Indonesia.That's right, Baird is fighting all his partisan battles before he goes by making moves like this very petty one. As opposed to the practice of past governments not obsessed with partisan considerations:
Environment Minister John Baird's office confirmed Wednesday that representatives from the three opposition parties would not be welcome as part of Canada's official delegation at the United Nations conference.
That's a departure from a long-held government tradition of bringing critics along to major international conferences - opposition MPs participated in the last major UN environmental conference in Nairobi last November, for example. This coming meeting will set the stage for a follow-up agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012 and does not include the developing world.
Baird spokesman Garry Keller said in an e-mail that Baird "...is going to Indonesia to work for global action on climate change, and not fight partisan battles."
"Environmental groups and other third parties are planning on attending the conference, and opposition members are free to attend the conference if they wish, as there is nothing stopping them from attending," Keller said.
The Liberals note that while Leader Stephane Dion was the environment minister, he brought Tory critic Bob Mills "to pretty much everything," and arranged for Mills to participate in some meetings with foreign ministers at which Dion wasn't present.The Conservatives demonstrate once again that they really don't concern themselves with the traditions developed through years of parliamentary collegiality. This is a very different kind of federal government, indeed....
Being named a part of an official delegation confers a number of privileges, including access to limited accommodation, official briefings and much of the international talks themselves. Payment of transportation costs is not necessarily picked up by the federal government, but ticket bookings are often co-ordinated on behalf of delegation participants.