michael martin zoe caron

Yesterday’s online conversation with Canada’s Chief Negotiator, Mr Michael Martin. Read below for both the actual and the between-the-lines versions of this exchange. If you have questions you would like to ask him, email adoptanegotiator@campaginhub.org .

The questions:

  1. What was Canada aiming to achieve with the intervention made in the Finance sub-committee [yesterday]?
  2. What is the primary objective for the Canadian delegation this week?
  3. Is the Canadian delegation going to (or want to) give the chair/facilitators a mandate to revise the text?


What was actually said:

ZC: What was Canada aiming to achieve with the intervention made in the Finance sub-committee [yesterday]?

MM: Building consensus on the sources, governance and scale of finance will be a key element of a deal in Copenhagen so we are working to identify areas of convergence among Parties on those issues.

ZC: What is the primary objective for the Canadian delegation this week?

MM: Our key objective this week at this informal session is to deepen discussion of the major issues in all areas of the negotiations – mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology – based on the revised negotiation text.

ZC: Is the Canadian delegation going to (or want to) give the chair/facilitators a mandate to revise the text?

MM: The Chair of the LCA has identified facilitators to seek to clarify areas of convergence and divergence among Parties. If we are able to advance that work with the support of all Parties, the Chair may wish to explore ways in which we might refine the text. There will be a plenary discussion tomorrow and Friday that might address how best to move forward, although the Chair has also stressed that we should treat this week as the first part of a three week session that will resume in Bangkok at the end of September.

How this convo played out in my imagination:

ZC: Hello Mr. Martin. You look great today. It looks like the Canadian team is really working up a sweat.

MM: Thanks Zoë. Funny you should say that, as you’re not actually in Bonn but rather BlackBerrying me as if we were two MPs in the midst of Question Period.

ZC: I know – I could just sense it. That, and they’ve trained us pretty well in this campaign to quite figuratively stalk our negotiators, if you can believe it.

MM: Er…. so I’ve heard. So, let me ask you this: do you actually feel like this campaign is making a difference…? Do you really feel like a lot of people are following your updates? And, what I’ve really been wondering, is how do you honestly feel about those abrassive red shirts they make you wear?

ZC: I’m pretty sure I’m not allowed to answer that.

MM: I understand. Well, on to the next question then.

ZC:  Is it really difficult to work within the confines that the Canadian political leaders have set for the government?

MM: I’m pretty sure I am not allowed to answer that.

ZC: I understand. Well, on to the next question then. Could you tell me, what exactly is Canada’s goal this time round?

MM: Well Zoë, If we want to get specific, it’s really all about the talking, you see. A smidge’ of “yes, no, maybe-so” – a kick of “yada, yada, yada” – and a healthy dose of “dear chair, ladies, gentlemen” and we are rolling. It’s all about being the voice of a silent government. A true skill most bureaucrats master over time. Behind the scenes, we are working quite diligently to work out true policy solutions. Unfortunately, it’s not our role to share that.

ZC: I understand. Well, on to the next question: The quick paced and highly popular UN rumour mill says that Canada spoke in the finance discussion today. Can you tell me more, please?

MM: As I’ve told you before (and as every bureaucrat since the dawn of time will tell you) we’re here to get along and cooperate. Canada just wants everyone to agree on where the climate cash is going to come from, and who’s going to take care of it. It’s a loose bolt in the whole structure of the deal we are aiming to get to in December in Copenhagen. We just want to figure out where parties agree and where they don’t so we can work through that.

ZC: Any chance that Canada is going to ask the people who are organizing all this to have to change the written document we have in front of us?

MM: You know as well as I do that the facilitator’s job is to identify where countries don’t agree, and to try to achieve agreement on as many elements as possible. Once we do that, we can start really working on the text.  There are a few more sessions this week too. You should know that the facilitator told us all to think of this week as part ONE of a 3 week session to be continued in Bankok at the end of Sept.

ZC: I see.  Thank you so much for your time, Mr. Martin. I really, truly appreciate the time you take to respond so quickly to my hand-held-wireless device messages, despite the fact that the responses are always the we-can-only-tell-you-so-much-and-if-you-want-real-answers-why-don’t-you-talk-to-your-political-leaders type. Never the less, not all delegations are as open and responsive, and that element is greatly appreciated.

MM: Thanks Zoë. By the way, in your expert opinion, do you think people would be interested in following me on Twitter? I just checked this morning and I already have 29 followers (!!), and I haven’t even tweeted yet!

ZC: Without a doubt, Mr. Martin. Without a doubt.

[Sidenote: you may follow Mr. Martin’s potential tweets at: http://twitter.com/chiefnegotiator ]

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