Catherine McKenna spent four years as Justin Trudeau’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change. Monday, she announced her intention not to run for office in the next election, saying she wanted more time to focus on family and climate.

It says a great deal when a high-ranking person at the centre of national policy-making leaves government to work on the climate crisis. She remains silent about the dedication of Canada and its three western provinces to expanded fossil fuel production, including bitumen mined from Alberta tar sands, the dirtiest fossil fuel on the planet.

Sadly, McKenna’s failure to comment on the Trudeau government’s climate failures comes as Canadians are dropping dead from the unprecedented heat wave now troubling westerners.

Mckenna claims responsibility for “Canada’s first meaningful climate plan” and says to people cynical about politics:

I hope you take that as hard evidence of what’s possible. Things can change. Sometimes the biggest of things.

Yes, things do change. But sometimes, people pretend things have changed positively when those things have grown worse instead. New York Times reports the hard truth in its April article Trudeau Was a Global Climate Hero. Now Canada Risks Falling Behind:

Canada is the only G7 nation whose greenhouse gas emissions have increased since the Paris Agreement. The main reason: its oil sands… Canadian officials insist that Mr. Trudeau’s policies simply need more time to work. But environmentalists counter that Canada can’t reduce emissions without reducing oil production from the [Alberta tar] sands…

“There’s a disconnect, at least on the international stage, between Canada’s reputation on climate and the reality of action on the ground,” said Catherine Abreu, the executive director of Climate Action Network Canada, a coalition of about 100 labor, Indigenous, environmental and religious groups. “We really have to stop selling ourselves that perhaps comforting, but dangerous, lie that there is room for the oil sands in the future.”

The Syncrude tar sands mine is one of the largest oil sands producers in Alberta.

McKenna’s replacement in the environment ministry is North Vancouver MP Jonathan Wilkinson. He told the New York Times that USA could learn “some things” from Canadian efforts to address climate change. He argued the Biden administration has “has a pretty big tail wind with respect to the increasing phaseout of coal,”

Unlike the USA under Joe Biden, Canada has a continuing love affair with coal. Metro Vancouver is already the largest coal exporter in North America and Neptune terminals on the North Shore is proceeding with a nearly $1 billion coal port expansion.

west shore terminals

I expect North Vancouver MP and Minister of the Environment and Climate Jonathan Wilkinson will be at the ceremonial opening when Neptune’s large North Vancouver coal export port expansion is complete.

Categories: Environment

13 replies »

  1. I live in Ottawa but not in Catherine’s riding. Personally I think she is an ethical and honest person, and was moved out of the environment portfolio because she was being railroaded by JT’s political aspirations. I do believe she is as concerned as many others of us looking to salvage some kind of life for next generations. However with the whipping system in the major parties, if Catherine had openly contradicted her “leader” when he bought and continues to support the Trans Mountain extension, she would have been moved to powerless back benches. He moved her to the current portfolio so she could not wield so much power to stop the subsidies to the fossil lobbyists’ demands. And now she has declared her exit from active government so she can work on environmental issues independently. Time will tell how she will do this. Meanwhile her children will benefit from her presence without the need for security guards. Media comments against her have been brutal. Proves there are a lot of ignorant Trumpists in Canada.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your conclusions may be true but we would know that for sure if McKenna had resigned from the Liberal Party on a matter of principle, sat as an independent, and talked publicly about the urgent need for greater action to address climate change and the failure of Liberals to walk the walk.

      Catherine McKenna appears to have chosen the easy way out.

      She’s not the only one. BC has a number of provincial cabinet ministers who forgot environmental principles they once espoused so they could keep a seat at the Cabinet table and continue to draw ministerial perquisites and extra salaries.


  2. The mere fact that our provincial and federal governments are doing nothing to bring the public into a serious engagement on @SDG2030 shows that both the NDP and Liberals would prefer to remain stooges of unregulated capital.

    With the current leadership crisis within the Federal Green Party, it is timely for the General Membership to reorganize the party’s relationship to the membership base: ***NO more procrastination on bringing the entire Canadian public into grassroots organizing to implement the 2019 Federal Platform which is completely designed around accomplishing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030***

    The Green Party has the potential to demonstrate how a just society can be achieved, by developing a theory and practice for authentic membership-driven policy.


  3. Hmmmm . Sounds like we need a more aggressive carbon tax on gas , vehicle levy and road pricing . That should solve all our problems . Pack your bags BC were going for a guilt trip !!!!
    Seriously though we have been paying a carbon tax for over a decade and our emissions have only gone up . Maybe it’s time we stopped listening to our bought and sold politicians. We should cede Canada to Norway and let their politicians figure it out. At least we will get paid for once.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I would like to suggest that your group and other NGO’s really need to differentiate between metallurgical and thermal coal, and consider promoting stepwise changes towards our final goals.

    The two coals really are different, as thermal coal is ultimately replaceable by renewables whereas there is no reasonable technology yet to replace metallurgical coal – and we all use steel every day – just look around you. Furthermore, e-vehicles, wind turbines, solar panels all use huge amounts of steel.

    It also seems to be completely ignored that the use of both coals can and should be greatly improved in pollution including CO2 and other greenhouse gases (NO2, SO2), and in fact there are sites in the world doing it with good economics (Sask Power Boundary Dam Facility), and demanding/promoting these changes as a first step would have a huge and almost immediate impact.

    These steps would be easier for environmental groups to ‘sell’ to industry and governments and would achieve the goals we all need faster. The end goals don’t have to change, but progress would be made faster and easier. There seems to be too much confrontation between industry and environmental NGO’s – we all need to find solutions together.


    • It is a myth that we must continue use of metallurgical coal for steel making. Industry prefers coal because it is the least-cost fuel. The supply chain is established and coal company owners and financiers are politically connected so that too favours the status quo.

      Carbon capture and storage, such as that used at SaskPower’s Boundary Dam coal-fired is uneconomic. Even with massive subsidies from taxpayers, electricity produced at that plant costs about five times what wind power costs today. Coal producers are the only ones enjoying a happy outcome from that project.

      IEEFA reported, “There isn’t one example of a CCS project anywhere in the world that offers a financial justification for investing in CCS.”

      Without effective carbon capture, low emission steel making requires a primary energy source other than coal. Production of concrete and metals are responsible for 15% to 20% of greenhouse gas emissions. De-carbonizing these and other industrial processes must be non-negotiable if the world wants to resolve climate change. Financial costs will be higher but environmental costs of existing methods may be fatal to humanity.

      Emissions in secondary steel production can be very low if producers use fossil-free electricity. Recycling scrap is an option for decarbonisation but not one that can fill total demand for steel. Green hydrogen and electricity from renewable sources are the ways steelmakers will cut carbon emissions. Nations with the largest economies are mandating these changes.

      Swedish company SSAB plans to market the world’s first fossil-free steel in the near future. SSAB says:

      The commitment to net zero CO2 emission steel extends across SSAB’s entire steelmaking process, starting with the iron ore being sourced using fossil-free mining. In the next phase, coal and coke have traditionally been used in the blast furnace process to remove oxygen from the iron ore to create iron. In the HYBRIT process, SSAB aims to replace the coal and coke with hydrogen gas as a sustainable alternative.

      To begin with, fossil-free electricity will be used in the electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen. The HYBRIT process produces solid iron (sponge iron) which is then melted down in an electric arc furnace. Importantly, at this stage the by-product is water, not CO2.

      …Fossil-free steel does not compromise on quality and can be used in all industries. The properties of the steel will not change; the end product will still be the same high-quality steel. SSAB fossil-free steels will be created following the existing downstream steelmaking and heat treatment process – just produced exclusively with fossil-free electricity and biofuels.

      I expect carbon border taxes will be a necessary tool to ensure recalcitrant nations do their parts to move the world to a low or zero carbon environment.

      What the world is doing today is not sustainable. Neoliberals cared about sustainability when it was a word used to justify cuts to pensions, education, healthcare and other social services. They forget about the concept if it threatens wealth creation by financial elites.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I feel at this moment carbon taxes from the public are mostly a big scam and thieving tax grabs, that are not being implemented properly to there full purpose. I don’t mind paying my part. I just need too see the money being used where it is supposed to go. After the massive Covid debt I believe lots will be going to government debt coverages and sleazy coffers, of buddies and places of questionable intentions.
    Climate action and green plans will be stifled and all we will hear is political speak ( bullshit in other words ) from the politicians while they keep the robbery going. Trudeau is full of it. Horgan is and especially Alberta’s Jason Ass Kenny is.

    The ripoff at the gas pumps is an example of government corporate theft. What the hell are people supposed to do until some transition is made to get to work, and do their day to day.. If it’s some warped vision to get people out of their vehicles and buy unaffordable electric vehicles, ride bikes to work that’s huge miles away is right away is FUBAR. (Military jargon).
    So do we just shut all dams down. and everything else and walk. Holy shit. I believe in getting to the Green energy side, but WTF. Can’t go back to cave dwelling in the meantime. Oil expansion and Site C attests to the big BS from the slimeball politicians that getting to green is Bullshit.
    It’s going take way longer to transition than people think, and its the lying thieving hypocrites like Horgan, Trudeau and the rest of them that will screw us and are screwing us and lying to us, and our wonderful First Nations peoples. Hell, the politician has also become masters at manipulating and lying to First Nations and the treaty rights and situations and issues involved. Boy they have become real masters at it. Highly Professional repugnant lying manipulating politicians is what we pay for. What a deal folks. What a deal.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a reply but be on topic and civil.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s