Politics

Greens' May tries to join Tuvalu at climate talks

Green party Leader Elizabeth May says since her own government doesn't want her contribution at an international conference on climate change, she's offered it up to Tuvalu.
Ottawa - Green Party Leader Elizabeth May gives a briefing prior to her departure to the environmental conference in South Africa 13:39

Green party Leader Elizabeth May says since her own government doesn't want her contribution at an international conference on climate change, she offered it up to Tuvalu. 

May calls it a "gross insult" the federal government has excluded her and other opposition MPs from the Canadian delegation heading to a key climate conference in South Africa.

She says she and opposition environment critics sent the Prime Minister's Office a letter offering to pay their own way to the conference in Durban and they haven't received so much as a reply.

May even tried to join the Tuvalu delegation but missed the deadline.

Rising sea levels due to global warming threaten to submerge the tiny island nation in the South Pacific, population 10,500. Its legislators have even met underwater to publicize their plight.

"If my government, the Government of Canada, does not need my help, I offer it to another government, one that works for my children because the Government of Canada does not work for my children, my grandchildren," May said in French.

"Only the Tuvalu government does. I trust their delegation a lot and do not trust at all the Government of Canada and its delegation."

'Offensive to Canadian principles'

May says excluding her — the lone Green party MP in the House of Commons — is one thing. Excluding the environment critics from the official Opposition NDP and Liberals is unprecedented.

"It's really insulting and offensive to Canadian democratic principles that this government acts as if it is Parliament," she said.

"When Canada goes to an international negotiation, it doesn't go as the Harper government; it goes as Canada."

May will attend the conference as an observer but, lacking the credentials given members of official delegations, she will not be allowed to attend some of its key discussions.

"I never regarded the participation of the official Opposition on the delegation as a question mark," she said, acknowledging that with only one seat her Greens lack official party status.

"I never thought for a minute they would exclude the Liberals and the NDP."

The Conservatives appear to be as committed to killing the Kyoto protocol on greenhouse-gas emissions as they were to killing the Canadian Wheat Board and the long-gun registry, said May.

Environment Minister Peter Kent says Canada won't make a second commitment to Kyoto because the accord doesn't include some of the world's biggest emitters, such as the United States, India and China.

That, said May, is "a big fat lie."

"China, India and Brazil are all countries that ratified the Kyoto protocol."

South Africa's high commissioner to Canada has said some countries — strongly hinting Canada is among them — have been arm-twisting ahead of the Durban conference, even threatening to withdraw aid money if some countries don't adopt their position.

May said it's critical Canada "come back into the fold of countries prepared to be responsible citizens globally."

"This is a time for people of conscience to speak up. ... We are not in a position to negotiate with the atmosphere. We are unleashing a potential cataclysmic ... degree of climatic shifts that could wipe out human civilization."