Mandate letter results so far: Environment Minister Catherine McKenna

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna concludes a media availability as she makes her way to the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on May 18, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

OTTAWA - ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE

Accomplished

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna helped bring about about the national agreement on climate change with emissions reduction targets and has created a low carbon infrastructure fund. Admission to national parks was free for the Canada 150 year, Rouge National Urban Park was created in Toronto, and Canada hit its goal of protecting five per cent of marine and coastal areas by the end of 2017. There have been investments put on the table for green infrastructure including transit, water and wastewater systems and climate change mandates in municipalities. There have been some investments made to Parks Canada programs.

Working on it

A regjigging of the federal environmental assessment processes is underway and an announcement is expected soon. Eleven new species were added to the species-at-risk list in 2017, with a commitment to completing protection plans in a timely way, but the protection plans are still ongoing. An announcement to make admission to national parks free for children and new Canadians is coming soon. Canada signed a North American clean energy agreement in 2016, but its outcome is less certain with the change in U.S. presidents.

Not at all, or at least not yet

At the G20 in 2009, Canada committed to phase out fossil fuel subsidies. It was the second item in McKenna's mandate letter, but Auditor General Michael Ferguson says Canada has no plan to do it. Ferguson and the government are locked in a battle over whether he can see finance documents that detail what the existing subsidies actually are. McKenna was also told to set stronger air quality standards with the provinces and while she has committed to "strengthening" the Canada Environmental Protection Act, she hasn't committed specifically to national, enforceable air quality standards.

Will it matter?

Protecting the environment better than their predecessors was one of the big pillars of the Liberal election campaign, one that helped swing the left-wing vote their way in 2015. If environmentalists believe the Liberals are not doing enough on that front, those votes could be on the move come 2019.


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