New NAFTA Advisory Council on the Environment: serving the interests of industry?

Ottawa (11 Sept. 2017) — There is great concern, apprehension, and suspicion from labour and environment groups following a recent announcement by the federal environment minister, Catherine McKenna, on the creation of a 10-person advisory council on NAFTA and the environment. The apprehension has to do with what appears to be a clear ideological bias in favour the resource sector, private sector, and privatization.

The council includes

  • Lorraine Mitchelmore, former president of Shell Canada
  • Anne Giardini, former president of the logging company Weyerhaeuser Canada
  • Kathy Bardswick, former president of the insurance company The Co-operators, and a founding member of the "Council for Clean Capitalism"
  • Pierre-Marc Johnson, former Quebec premier and Quebec’s negotiator for the Canada-European Union free trade agreement
  • Gordon Campbell, former BC premier who approved in 2010 the highly controversial Site C dam project
  • Matt Kronby, an international lawyer who has a career representing private sector clients and advising corporate boards and senior executives on trade and investment issues
  • Scott Vaughan, President of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). In a November 2012 blog, Brent Patterson of the Council of Canadians noted that its funders include Enbridge, Suncor, Alcan, Investors Group, the International Council on Mining and Minerals, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. On its current website the IISD cites a study that promotes “the benefits associated with enhancing and aligning oil and gas sector environmental regulations and fiscal policies in Canada, the United States and Mexico.”
  • Sabaa Khan, international environmental and trade law specialist whose research focuses on “public-private partnerships in asset recovery and e-waste management.”

The Council also includes one Indigenous representative, namely Natan Obed, who is President of the Inuit Tapiritt Kanatami. But the remaining member, former Saskatchewan cabinet minister Janice MacKinnon, does not have any particular experience or long-standing background concerning environmental issues. She is currently an advisor to Canada's Ecofiscal Commission, which has been criticized for its close relationship with the Canadian fossil fuels industry. 

No labour or environmental organizations represented

 “When I first learned about the composition of this committee I was quite taken aback,” said Larry Brown, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). “We are very concerned about the heavy influence of corporate and pro-business interests, the under-representation of independent voices, and the complete absence of representation from both labour groups and environmental organizations.” Brown said.

"We are deeply troubled" about the composition of committee

"We are deeply troubled and perplexed about why the Minister would seek to take advice from former oil, insurance, and logging executives, and from individuals who have a clear ideological bias for private interests, but completely ignore groups like the Environmental Law Association, the Council of Canadians, or the Canadian Labour Congress," Brown said.


NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE