OTTAWA - Canada's man in Washington is going to Copenhagen.
The Harper government will dispatch Ambassador Gary Doer to climate talks in the Danish capital, The Canadian Press has learned.
Sources confirm Canada's newly-minted ambassador to the United States will be part of a 16-member group of "eminent expert advisers."
The group is also made up of heads of industry, including the CEOs of Calgary-based companies Atco Ltd. and TransAlta Corp.
Some members of the group apparently met recently in Calgary for a pre-Copenhagen briefing with Environment Minister Jim Prentice.
Prentice's office declined to provide more details on Doer's tabbing for the climate talks, or on the advisory group. A spokesman would only say an announcement on the Copenhagen advisers is expected this weekend.
But a Canadian Embassy spokeswoman later confirmed Doer's attendance at the talks.
"Yes, he is going," Jennie Chen said in an email.
Doer, the man known as Manitoba's "Teflon premier" during his decade-long reign, may help Canada wipe some of the soot from its tarnished image at the climate talks.
Canada gets picked on by environmentalists for not doing enough to fight climate change. Groups awarded Canada its third Fossil of the Day award Wednesday in Copenhagen.
The United Nations climate chief had to defend Canada on Wednesday at a news conference. Yvo de Boer told reporters Canada has been "negotiating very constructively" in Copenhagen.
But Doer's face is squeaky clean compared to Canada's grimy visage.
It was under his leadership that Manitoba joined a coalition of Canadian provinces and U.S. states that plans a regional market to trade carbon emissions.
Doer was also an ardent supporter of the Kyoto Protocol that countries are trying to negotiate a successor to in Copenhagen.
But the Canadian delegation may want to harness his well-honed skills as a negotiator and deep knowledge of Canada-U.S. trade and energy issues.
Canada goes into Copenhagen with its environmental policies largely hitched to whatever comes out of the United States.
Those tight ties to the U.S. could explain Doer's plane ticket to Copenhagen, says a former head of Canadian consular services and a former ambassador.
"Given the important role that the Americans are playing in Copenhagen, and the fact that Canadian policy - whether we like it or not - is supposedly going to be tied with what the Americans are doing, (I am) not surprised at all that we would bring Mr. Doer along on something like this," Gar Pardy said.
"On top of that, Doer comes from a very important province with a good background on that, so he comes with a double whammy almost, as it were, in terms of the issues that will be at play in Copenhagen."
Does was also the longest serving premier when he stepped down earlier this year. His relationships with provincial leaders may help Ottawa bridge gaps with the provinces in Copenhagen.
Delegates from 192 countries are at the UN talks trying to broker an agreement to curb the planet's pollution.
Canada's top climate-change envoy, Michael Martin, is leading a 47-member delegation of federal officials and provincial representatives.
It's not clear if the expert advisers are counted in that tally.
An Atco spokesman confirmed the company's president and CEO, Nancy Southern, is on her way to Europe to eventually join the Copenhagen talks.
Bringing heads of industry to climate talks isn't unique to Copenhagen, or to the Conservative government.
Former Liberal environment minister Christine Stewart, who negotiated and signed the Kyoto accord, recalls being lobbied by business leaders during those talks more than a decade ago.
"Their whole purpose in going is to lobby the minister - me - and talk among themselves as delegates, but also to lobby other delegations as well," she said.
She remembers holding early-morning briefings in cramped quarters each day for the Canadian delegation, including business leaders.
"They all felt strongly about the issue that was being negotiated," she said.
"Many Canadians at that time didn't want us to commit to anything, and so there was a lot of push-back from members of the delegation at the time."
It was only Day 3 on Wednesday and already the Copenhagen talks were off to a bumpy start.