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NEWS: UN backs climate conference, Harper snubs historic gathering

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The "dialogo pueblos -- gobiernos conferencia mundial climatica" (the dialogue between governments and the people) is taking place at this moment.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow is at the Hotel Regina where it is underway, while climate justice campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue and I are at the media centre at the universidad watching the coverage live on television.

(Maude e-mailed us as Bolivian president Evo Morales and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez passed by her as they entered the meeting space.)

Al Jazeera now reports that, "the United Nations has backed (the) Bolivian sponsored summit on climate change..."

Alicia Barcena, a representative of UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon, said today that, "Sometimes at the global level, as with what happened with the recent climate change debate, many groups felt excluded and I think it is right to address this."

It is being reported that the governments of more than 70 countries are present to participate in this dialogue with civil society representatives of nearly 130 countries.

The Council of Canadians had requested that the Harper government send a high-level official representative to this conference.

Neither the prime minister nor the environment minister are at the conference.

Not even Richard Lecoq, Canada's ambassador to Peru - who also has responsibility for Bolivia - is present.

The Harper government has only sent a representative from the Canadian consulate in La Paz, Bolivia. We have just sent an e-mail to the Canadian embassy in Peru requesting a meeting with this consular officer.

Still, this is further proof that -- with emission reduction goals that actually mean emissions will increase, continued promotion of the tar sands, the gutting of the environmental assessment process, the ongoing destruction of water in Canada, no laws stopping the destructive actions of Canadian mining companies at home and abroad -- the Harper government is an eco-outlaw with no commitment to acting responsibly to stop climate change.

Maude is taking notes and Andrea is Twittering reports on the dialogue as it continues. (Venezuelan president Chavez is speaking now.)

We'll have a fuller report as soon as possible.

Brent Patterson, Director of Campaigns and Communications, Council of Canadians
www.canadians.org

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