The price of Paris: Canada sends more than 300 delegates to climate talks
Canada has one of the largest teams at the Paris climate change conference, with more than 300 politicians, government staff and bureaucrats in attendance.
That’s more than double the U.S. team, which includes fewer than 150 officials, and about triple the U.K.’s team of about 100 attendees, according to United Nations figures.
“We have such a broad delegation, and that's a big change from the past,” said Catherine McKenna, the minister of environment and climate change, referring to Stephen Harper’s record on climate change. “Before, sometimes we actually didn't even show up.”
But the Conservative environment critic questioned just how much the Paris talks will cost taxpayers.
"Over 300 people? I think most Canadian taxpayers would call that excess," Ed Fast told CTV.
An idea of how much the COP21 talks will cost Canada has begun to emerge as officials from the national and provincial levels of government release estimates of their expenses.
According to figures provided to CTV, the federal government has budgeted more than $650,000 for the Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) delegation alone.
Of those funds, about $200,000 is allocated for accommodation, $48,000 for flights, $105,967 for meals and incidentals, and $200,000 for “other” (transport, office and equipment rental, telecommunications, shipping and hospitality), according to an Environment Canada official.
In addition, an estimated $121,500 will been provided to other Canadian delegates -- including youth, NGOs, Aboriginal organizations, and opposition MPs -- who were invited to Paris by McKenna.
A detailed account of spending by federal departments and agencies is expected to be disclosed after the conference.
Officials from each province and municipality attending the two-week long COP21 talks are expected to cover their own costs.
Alberta: An estimated $80,000 will be spent to send 13 delegates to Paris: Premier Rachel Notley, Minister of Environment and Parks Shannon Phillips, four political staff, four public servants and three “protection unit members.” The cost includes carbon offsets purchased for each delegate.
Manitoba: Approximately $35,000 will be spent to send seven officials, including Premier Greg Selinger, to Paris. That estimate includes the purchase of carbon credits.
Ontario: Twenty-two ministry officials will join Premier Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Glen Murray and “support staff” at the talks, according to a spokesperson. A cost estimate has not been released. Additionally, Wynne is expected to make two round-trip flights to Paris to attend Question Period back in Toronto.
British Columbia: Nine delegates will attend the Paris talks, including Premier Christy Clark, her communication director and two “event support” staff, according to a spokesperson. Cost details were not released.
New Brunswick: Six delegates will represent New Brunswick, including Premier Brian Gallant, Environment Critic Brian Keirstead and Green Party MLA David Coon. A cost estimate was not released because “it is hard to determine costs before the trip actually occurs,” a spokesperson said. No carbon offsets were purchased.
P.E.I.: Premier Wade MacLauchlan was joined by two officials. A cost estimate was not released. No carbon offsets were purchased.
Saskatchewan: Premier Brad Wall was joined by two staff and an environment official. A cost estimate has not been released.
With a report from CTV News’ Katie Simpson