Controversial climate skeptic Patrick Moore will no longer be giving a keynote address at the City of Regina’s upcoming sustainability conference — but he will likely still get paid.
Coun. Mike O’Donnell, a co-chair of the Reimagine Conference 2020: Roadmap to Sustainable Cities steering committee, made the announcement at city hall Friday afternoon.
“For the last week, there’s been lots of debate about our conference. Unfortunately, it’s not about sustainability. It’s about climate change,” O’Donnell told reporters. “We’re not hosting a climate change conference. We feel that we need to refocus and get that back to our topic.”
O’Donnell thinks Moore, hired for $10,000 plus $1,400 in expenses, will still receive remuneration.
“We have a contract. We’ll honour our contract,” O’Donnell said, noting the city is in discussions with the National Speakers Bureau, and that there are other clauses in the document. “We will need to pursue those.”
Moore, who holds a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of British Columbia, and who was once a major player in 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.
He did not respond to calls from Global News on Friday, but reacted to the city’s decision on Twitter, posting he did not want “to be part of such a stupid exercise.”
Shortly after the city released the conference agenda last week, public outcry over Moore’s role in the conference ensued.
Monday, the mayor revealed he asked O’Donnell and his co-chair, Coun. Joel Murray, to review the decision.
“We probably knew there would be some reaction, but I think because the topic and discussion has changed, probably it’s more reaction than I anticipated,” said O’Donnell, who originally stood by the decision to have Moore on the roster.
The topic proposed to Moore was a sustainable energy future, O’Donnell said. Moore has previously spoken on the transition away from traditional fossil fuels.
“He has now announced in this last while that he wants to speak about a different topic. We’re not interested in that,” O’Donnell said.
“We wish to have a wholesome discussion on what sustainability means, about the use of alternate energy sources and how that can help us as a city and other municipalities as well.”
Britt Hall, a biology professor at the University of Regina who has organized a climate change speaker series, said she was encouraged by the city’s decision to cut Moore from the conference.
It appears to be an indication that the city is listening to its public and that the public cares about the climate and the rate at which it is changing,” she said.
“I think that speaks well and encouraging of the community in Regina,” Hall said.
“I hope that this is a sign of their commitment.”
Moore is no longer listed as a speaker on the event’s website.
O’Donnell said he will not be replaced.
There are more than 40 people slated to speak at the conference.