Today I wanted to say a few words about liberal politician Catherine McKenna. She’s the Ottawa Centre MP who, last November, was named minister of environment and climate change in Justin Trudeau’s cabinet.
Ms. McKenna was one of the Liberals’ star candidates in last fall’s federal election. She edged out the popular three-term NDP incumbent, MP Paul Dewar, in the Ottawa Centre riding. Prior to that she was a high-profile lawyer and taught at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. She reportedly also served as a board member at the Trudeau Centre for Peace, Conflict and Justice. After seeing her résumé, the average party (any party) organizer would drool in anticipation of landing her as a candidate for public office.
By all accounts, she was a local girl (I live in Burlington, she’s from neighbouring Hamilton) who went forth to conquer the world—and did a pretty good job of it. So you might well ask what my beef is with her.
For a start, a few weeks after her election I began wondering just how much substance there is to her as a politician. Soon after taking office last fall, Ms. McKenna and Prime Minister Trudeau led a team of more than 300 politicians, government staff and bureaucrats to the Paris climate change conference, COP21.
This was one of the largest delegations and included twenty-two Ontario ministry officials led by Premier Kathleen Wynne. It was more than double the U.S. team and about triple the U.K.’s team. And this from a country that contributes less than 2 per cent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
According to CTV, the federal government budgeted about $650,000 for COP21, but that piece of international showboating cost Canada’s taxpayers more than $1-million and still counting. (I doubt we’ll ever know the full cost.) It is exactly that sort of casual disregard for budgets and tax money that I worried about when it seemed certain the Grits would regain power.
Yes, Canada is high on the list of per-capita GHG emitters. But we are a subarctic nation that produces a disproportionate amount of the world’s energy, forestry products, minerals and food. Most of these commodities are exported and consumed in other countries, but the GHG emissions resulting from their production are counted against us.
So why did Canada contribute $2.65-billion to the Green Climate Fund—up from $300 million under the former Conservative government? Interestingly, the much higher GHG emitter, the United States, has pledged $3 billion, while Japan, Germany, France and Britain have only pledged about $1-billion each, despite being some of the richest nations on earth.
Trudeau and McKenna grandstanding? You think! And they are doing it with our taxpayer bucks. At least, bucks they’ll borrow and we’ll have to repay someday—this year’s budget deficit is projected to be $29.4-billion. In other words, they’ve promised money we don’t even have.
But that’s pretty stale news.
Since then, we’ve heard a lot about “sunny ways,” but have heard little in the way of original thought concerning Canada participating in a balanced, responsible way in the international effort to reduce GHG emissions.
Controversial cap-and-trade schemes seem to be the holy grail, even though they know (but refuse to acknowledge) that, under carbon trading schemes, industries already addicted to carbon-based fuel will carry on as usual by buying cheap carbon credits.
Meanwhile, we let countries like China off the hook for their disproportionate contribution to the crisis, but sock it to Canadian consumers and taxpayers, then fritter away or send overseas whatever the government manages to gouge out of us.
Then there’s today’s media story about Ms. McKenna’s ministry spending $10,681 on photos of her and her staff during the Paris climate change talks.
According to CTV News, “She [McKenna] appears in almost every shot from the conference posted on her ministerial and departmental Twitter accounts, and in each of the 23 pictures currently on ECCC’s Flickr photo-sharing account.”
It’s all about her, eh? And, instead of leadership, we get “Canada is back,” “sunny ways” and other adolescent sloganeering.