Source: DeSmog Canada

This morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his new cabinet. Among the most exciting news is that the Minister of Environment title now includes Climate Change. What does the appointment of new MP Catherine McKenna to this file mean for climate change action in Canada?

From DeSmog Canada: 

Leaders in Canada’s environmental community are expressing optimism about the appointment of lawyer Catherine McKenna as Minister of Environment and Climate Change at a swearing in ceremony in Ottawa Wednesday morning.

“Including climate change in the environment minister’s title signals how high a priority this issue is to our new federal government,” said Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada.

As a lawyer, McKenna focused on international trade and competition and co-founded a charity focused on advancing human rights in the developing world.  She was also a legal adviser and negotiator for the United Nations peacekeeping mission in East Timor. A video on her website shows her biking around Ottawa with her three children.

Although her background isn’t heavily weighted to environment and climate change, Ed Whittingham, executive director of the Pembina Institute, said it’s a good appointment.

“I’m impressed with the NGO experience, which suggests a very different approach to working with environmental NGOs like Pembina,” Whittingham told DeSmog Canada. “It indicates a more engaging, communicative, collaborative approach, reading the tea leaves right now.”

McKenna pulled off an upset on Oct. 19, defeating popular NDP MP Paul Dewar to win her seat in Ottawa Centre. She will lead a Canadian delegation to Paris later this month for a critical United Nations meeting to negotiate a new agreement on cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

“I think she has just the right kind of experience,” said Louise Comeau, executive director of Climate Action Network Canada. “We’ve moved beyond the science and even the economic dimensions on climate change. This is now about the issues of justice and fairness and I think she’s well positioned to deal with that.”

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