Tories won't take critical MPs to climate talks

Environment Minister Peter Kent said Wednesday that opposition MPs will not be part of Canada's official delegation at UN climate talks in South Africa later this month.

NDP MPs' Washington trip to lobby against Keystone XL pipeline also attacked in question period

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 along his political rivals.

"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.

NDP travel slammed

Also during question period Wednesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver criticized a trip by NDP MPs Meagan Leslie and Claude Gravelle to Washington to argue against approval of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline to carry crude from northern Alberta's oilsands.

"This government does not go to another country to argue against job creation in Canada, but that is what the NDP did, a party that is totally unfit to govern and to even comment on the creation of new jobs," Harper said, in response to a question about the economy from interim Opposition Leader Nycole Turmel.

Oliver called the trip a "bizarre anti-trade mission" to "fight against the creation of Canadian jobs."

"The NDP are totally out of touch with ordinary Canadians and economic reality," the minister said. "Send in the clowns."

B.C. NDP MP Kennedy Stewart reminded the House that as opposition leader, Stephen Harper travelled to the U.S. and appeared on Fox News criticizing the Canadian government for refusing to join the Iraq War.

with files from CBC News