“Clearly, this is much more controversial than I thought it would be in a way that I don’t think I expected to happen,” said Mayor Micheal Fougere, who told reporters Monday that he’s asked Reimagine Conference 2020 steering committee co-chairs counsellors Mike O’Donnell and Joel Murray to go back over and explain the selection of Moore.
“There are other options available,” Fougere said.
Moore, who holds a PhD in ecology from the University of British Columbia and who was once a major player in the formation of Greenpeace Canada, has risen to prominence in recent years while denouncing anthropogenic carbon as a driver of climate change.
He also holds controversial views about the shrinking polar bear population, the death of the Great Barrier Reef and the Great Pacific garbage patch.
‘I just explain what I believe’
Global News spoke with Moore on Monday morning, asking him what he thinks about the controversy swirling around him.
“If you’re not controversial, you’re not shaking anything up at all. I just don’t see what that should be taken as a reason why I shouldn’t be speaking somewhere because I’m controversial. That’s who people want to hear speak is someone who has something to say who isn’t just mouthing the same platitudes as everyone else is,” Moore said.
“I just explain what I believe.”
The mayor said while “some of his views are fine,” some of Moore’s other views are “problematic.”
Fougere emphasized the city believes there is a climate issue, “a severe one.”
That runs contrary to much of the rhetoric of Moore, who is being paid $11,400 by the city, more than any other speaker, for his talk titled “Fake, Invisible Catastrophes and Threats of Doom.”
Friday after the agenda went live online, O’Donnell stood by Moore as a choice, saying Moore has “interesting ideas” and would “get people talking.”
A petition has since begun circulating to have Moore removed. A Facebook event called “Reimagine the Reimagine Conference” has been created by Envirocollective, a group that advocates for environmental action.
The mayor noted the number of people speaking out against having Moore on the agenda has steadily increased over the weekend.
Professor ‘disheartened’ by selection of Moore
University of Regina biology Prof. Britt Hall said she was “disheartened while also not surprised,” to see Moore’s name on the agenda.
“Every time I think that politicians and our governments are hearing what the public has to say about climate change and hearing what science has to say about climate change, I think we make progress and then something like this happens that makes me think that we have a long way to go,” she said.
Hall and two colleagues have recently established a climate change lecture series that includes 11 speakers from the university. None were invited to speak at the Reimagine conference, she said.
“We’re past the point in our history as a society that we can legitimize the idea that climate change is not human-induced, that these natural variations that we see in climate are not something to be concerned about,” she said. “Because this is the keynote and this is the message that the city has decided to push, it really reduces the legitimacy of the conference in my eyes.”
The conference is scheduled for May 20-21.