Bali: Fuzzy Optics

By Eve Savory, CBCNews.ca

Either John Baird doesn’t worry about optics, or someone didn’t tell him they matter. Today’s Globe and Mail reported that industry is part of the official Canadian delegation in Bali.

Earlier, the Environment Minister had broken a treasured tradition of including Opposition leaders and representatives of industry, environmental, youth and aboriginal groups.

A representative of Encana, the oil and gas company, is an official delegate. That status means it and several other businesses will get the same briefings the minister gets, access to Canadian documents and closed-door meetings.

In 1992, at the Earth Summit in Rio, the Conservative government had started the tradition by making the Canadian delegation inclusive. I remember being invited to videotape the breakfast meeting – but not the secret briefing that followed.

It’s possible that Baird, a rookie at these immensely complicated international meetings, would have benefited from the contacts, insight, and advice of the Opposition leaders and environmental groups. On the other hand they benefit by not being included. Members of the delegation are sworn to secrecy, and nothing now binds them from speaking.