The City of Regina is axing self-described “sensible environmentalist” Patrick Moore from its sustainability conference this spring.
During a news conference at City Hall on Friday, Coun. Mike O’Donnell said Moore’s planned keynote speech had become a detraction to the overall objective of the Reimagine Conference, which is to foster meaningful discussion around how to make the City’s facilities and operations 100 per cent renewable by 2050.
“We’re not hosting a climate change conference and so we feel that we need to refocus,” he said.
According to O’Donnell, who spoke on behalf of fellow conference co-chair Coun. Joel Murray, the committee had initially reached out to Moore to talk about “a sustainable energy future.
“He has now announced in this last while that he wants to speak about a different topic,” said O’Donnell. “I’m not interested in that.”
Moore said in an interview earlier this week that the title of his talk was “Fake invisible catastrophes and threats of doom,” and urged people not to pre-judge it, but come and listen.
Moore, who was told of the change Friday, tweeted, “I have been de-platformed, cancelled, and round-filed by the great City of Regina for daring to question the God-Given wisdom of the catastrophists. Actually, I don’t want to be part of such a stupid exercise. It’s impossible to make a city 100% renewable.”
Moore had not responded to requests for comment as of late Friday afternoon.
The announcement comes after social media backlash prompted Mayor Michael Fougere to ask organizers to reconsider Moore’s role in the conference.
“I’m pleased that he will no longer be part of the conference,” said Ward 3 Coun. Andrew Stevens, who commended O’Donnell for how he handled the situation. “I was hearing from participants in that conference, local folks, who said that ‘Maybe we don’t even want to be part of a conference,’ …There was a risk to the entire conference and the purpose of it if he stayed.”
Had he stuck to the topic of sustainability, Stevens said it wouldn’t have been an issue.
The city says it will currently honour Moore’s contract — which gives him $10,000 plus $1,400 for expenses — but there are clauses within it they “need to pursue.” The contract is under review by National Speakers Bureau and the city.
The agenda for the Reimagine conference was announced at the end of January, sparking backlash almost immediately.
“The objective of this conference is to set the framework to make Regina 100 per cent renewable by 2050. It is not helpful to have someone who disputes the science behind climate change being one of the prominent speakers at that event,” Shanon Zachidniak, the founder of a local environmental organization called EnviroCollective at the time.
But in an interview last week, Moore insisted he’s not a climate change denier — but disputes that “CO2 is actually the main driver of the whole world’s climate.”
Moore is on the board of directors of the CO2 Coalition, an organization that promotes the idea creating carbon dioxide is beneficial to the world. He has been widely criticized for calling the climate crisis fake news and fake science.
The total cost of the conference is budgeted at $125,000. According to a news release from the city, the event will gather community leaders, elected officials and business representatives to discuss energy management and future sustainability.
The Reimagine Conference is meant to help guide the development of the city’s Environmental Sustainability Framework, a plan to reach city council’s target to become a fully renewable city by 2050. It will have three keynote speakers and a total of 45 presenters.