Letter to the Prime Minister for Opposition Representatives to Attend COP 17

Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A2

November 10, 2011

Dear Prime Minister,

We write on a matter of important policy and Parliamentary tradition.

For decades, Canadian delegations to international conferences have been understood to represent Canada — not merely the governing party. Canada’s delegations have included the opposition, provincial representatives, and civil society.

In the specific case of negotiations relating to climate action, starting in 1990 at the first Preparatory Meeting leading to the Earth Summit (Rio, U.N. Conference on Environment and Development), not only were opposition MPs included on the delegations, so too were fully funded representatives from civil society groups (environment, development, women, youth) and First Nations.  Business and industry groups, as well as the trade union movement, were also included, but at their own expense. These exemplary practices took place under the Progressive Conservative majority of former Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney. There was no change in these practices through the governments of Prime Ministers Campbell, Chretien and Martin.

Your government broke with this tradition in 2006 when opposition representatives were not included in the COP 12 delegation to Nairobi, nor to COP 13 in Bali.  By 2008 at COP 14 in Poznan, the Canadian delegation once again included opposition members.

Opposition MPs were again included at COP 15 in Copenhagen (2009) and COP 16 in Cancun (2010).

We were surprised and dismayed to learn from the Hon. Peter Kent that opposition MPs were not to be part of the delegation to COP 17 in Durban November 29-December 9.

We are writing across party lines to ask for a re-consideration.

We also request a specific rationale for this decision, especially in light of the fact that in the past the government has also included a number of business and industry representatives in the delegation.

We wish to underscore that by informing us in late October that opposition MPs are not to be included on the delegation, our opportunities to receive credentials to attend have been compromised. The conference is to begin in less than a month.  The UNFCCC Secretariat has closed registration. While it is an easy matter for a Party to the FCCC (a country such as Canada) to add names to its list of accredited members, it is nearly impossible for us as Parliamentarians to register at this point.

We wish to participate in COP 17 as have opposition members for decades.  The least the Canadian government should be prepared to do is to register opposition MPs as part of the delegation in order to ensure we have credentials for this important conference.

We look forward to your timely response.


Megan Leslie, M.P.
Member of Parliament for Halifax
New Democratic Party Environment Critic


Kirsty Duncan, M.P.
Member of Parliament for Etobicoke North
Liberal Party of Canada Environment Critic

Elizabeth May, O.C., M.P.
Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands
Leader of the Green Party of Canada