Saskatchewan fights with Ottawa over pavilion presentations at COP28 in Dubai

However, he said Ottawa offered the province 45 minutes for the reception. He also rejected the province’s nine other proposals, which he said included panels led by industry leaders.

Reiter said there are 40 Saskatchewan businesses and organizations accompanying Premier Scott Moe and four other government officials on the trip.

He said Saskatchewan wants to showcase companies’ sustainability efforts.

“We want to give them the opportunity to tell their story. That (45 minutes) obviously would not have been enough, so a different direction was chosen,” she said.

Companies and organizations pay travel expenses, he added.

Saskatchewan has long been at odds with the federal government over environmental policies, including carbon pricing, net-zero targets, emissions caps and energy project assessments.

Kaitlin Power, spokesperson for federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, said in an email last week that Ottawa decided to allow one event per province and territory as there is limited time and availability.

“The Saskatchewan government had registered for a pavilion event and was on the list probably until mid-October, although we are confirming the exact date they were removed,” Power said.

Jay Teneycke, spokesperson for Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Commerce, said in an email that the province signed a contract for its own pavilion on Oct. 16.

“The Saskatchewan government knows the federal government will not share our story,” Teneycke said.

“As an export-driven economy, it is vital that we explore new markets and partnerships that could create more jobs and opportunities for Saskatchewan residents.”

The Ottawa pavilion includes presentations covering finance, trade, health, Indigenous leadership, urbanization, energy, industry and Canada’s plan for the workforce to respond to climate change.

The presentations feature officials from the governments of Alberta and British Columbia, as well as others from federal agencies and non-governmental organizations.

The federal pavilion program says Alberta Premier Danielle Smith will participate in a fireside chat about Alberta’s plans to reduce emissions through technology.

Alberta Environment Minister Rebecca Schulz will accompany Smith on the trip. Smith’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about his appearance in the pavilion.

The federal government pavilion will be in what is called the blue zone, a separate area for accredited delegates. The area also hosts formal negotiations.

The Saskatchewan pavilion will be in the green zone, an area for the general public with talks, interactive exhibits, art installations and film screenings.

Both zones are in the same building, but special passes are required for the blue zone.

Reiter said he doesn’t know if the province tried to buy a pavilion in the blue zone.

Last week, Moe told reporters that the Saskatchewan pavilion will feature a small seating area, a meeting space and a stage.

“Instead of having one or two presentation opportunities for the prime minister or some politician, we would have a bigger venue where we could actually provide that kind of presentation opportunity for industries,” he said.

Moe said he also applied to participate in the federal government pavilion.

“We see that what Saskatchewan is doing certainly does not contrast or detract in any way from what Canada is doing at COP28,” he said.

The cost of the province’s pavilion, which does not include travel, appears to be the largest travel expense ever incurred by the Saskatchewan Party government.

Saskatchewan’s opposition NDP has criticized the spending, questioning whether the province needs a pavilion when other jurisdictions, such as Alberta, have not purchased one.

Ottawa has not determined the costs of his trip.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 20, 2023.

Jeremy Simes, The Canadian Press

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