Being denied access to Environment Minister Peter Kent's press conference, along with two other opposition MPs, at the United Nation's Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa gave me a real understanding of just why Canada's international standing has taken such a beating.
I was in South Africa to attend two international conferences on climate change. The first was in Cape Town organized by GLOBE International, the second the United Nations' conference COP 17.
Being at the second conference brought me, on a Tuesday night, to a hotel corridor far away from the UN conference site where Canada was holding a press conference. Opposition MPs were not welcome. On the other side of the doors, minister Kent was announcing that Canada would not be part of a second Kyoto treaty.
It was similarly made clear we were not welcome when Canada refused to accredit MPs from other parties as part of our nation's delegation, something which used to be standard operating procedure. Unfortunately, Canada's new majority Conservative government feels there is no need for different points of view regardless of how many facts support them.
Facts such as the Arctic Council's report made earlier in the day on changing ice conditions and temperatures which revealed that a new climate has emerged in the Arctic, one with less ice and a warmer ocean.
Unfortunately, Canada will not listen to scientists or representatives from other nations when they present clear evidence that action must be taken on climate change. In Canada our scientists are muzzled and kept away from participation in global events.
As this Tuesday unfolded, I came to realize why I had endured the verbal lambasting from parliamentarians from around the world at the earlier GLOBE International Conference. One after another national representatives stood and denounced Canada.
Probably the hardest words to listen to were those of former United Kingdom deputy prime minister John Prescott, who said Canada's attempts to sabotage an international agreement on climate change was nothing more than "a conspiracy against the poor."
At the GLOBE International conference the message from other nations to Canada was, "we are watching what you are doing and we are appalled." In all of the international gatherings I have attended over the last 20 years this was the first time I have experienced such an attack on Canada.
Other nations are appalled that this Conservative government not only refuses to take concrete action on climate change but is actively working against it. Canada works against action on climate change both through non-cooperation in international efforts and by getting rid of the science which proves their position wrong.
Case in point, the decision that the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) will no longer do research into Arctic ice trends following the publishing of as study which showed the unprecedented severity of the Arctic meltdown.
Another example is the decision to end support for the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences (CFCAS), which provided funds for scientific research into the rate and impacts of climate change.
I fear this is only the beginning of Canada's diminished international stature. Stephen Harper's blind big-business agenda has the rest of the world seeing Canada as nothing more than corporate shills.
Canada is earning a reputation as caring only for dollars with no regard to the damage our commerce does to others whether it be asbestos shipped to the India or expanding the tar sands to export raw bitumen, we care not.
Over the next four years the Conservative's cynical and self-interested corporate mindset will become the hallmark of the Canadian state.