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Catherine McKenna

Birthdate: August 5, 1971
Political Party: Liberal Party of Canada
Occupation: 26th Minister of the Environment and Climate Change
Career Start: 2005
Residence: Hamilton, Ontario
Education: Master’s Degree in International Relations at the London School of Economics and a Law Degree at McGill.

Life Story

Born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario, she is the eldest of four children of Dr. John McKenna, an Irish dentist and his Quebec-born wife Pat McKenna, who still live in the southwest part of Hamilton. On August 14, 1999, McKenna married entrepreneur and writer Scott Gilmore, with whom she has lived since 2002 in The Glebe, Ottawa. They have two daughters and one son.

Political Career

McKenna was appointed Minister of Environment and Climate Change in Justin Trudeau’s first cabinet on November 4, 2015. One of her first appearances as Minister of Environment and Climate Change was at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

In December 2016, McKenna led a clean-technology sector business delegation with Canadian and Chinese companies in China. Additionally, she served as the international executive vice-chair of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development and co-chaired the council’s annual general meeting with China’s Minister of Environmental Protection, Minister Chen Jining.

Some of McKenna’s critics have derisively nicknamed her “Climate Barbie”, a label McKenna considers a sexist insult Conservative MP Gerry Ritz caused controversy in September 2017 when he tweeted a link to a news story stating no industrialized nations were on pace to meet Paris Agreement carbon emission targets with the comment “Has anyone told our climate Barbie! [sic]” (referring to McKenna). Ritz deleted the original post within 20 minutes, afterward posted another message stating: “I apologize for the use of Barbie, it is not reflective of the role the Minister plays”. Conservative leader Andrew Scheer condemned Ritz’s comment later in the day and stated he would reach out to McKenna personally to “assure the minister that this type of behavior has no place in the Conservative caucus”.

In November 2018, in response to Ontario provincial government 2018 decision to cancel all climate action projects supported through the federal Low Carbon Economy Fund, McKenna announced that the Government of Canada would work directly with businesses to re-invest the $420-million remaining in the province’s Low Carbon Economy Fund.

All the promises made by the party

  • Appointed a gender-balanced cabinet
    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a big step toward gender parity when he historically unveiled Canada’s first ever gender balanced cabinet.
  • New Canada Child Benefit
    The Canada Child Benefit gives more money to 9 out of 10 Canadians families, and lifts almost 300,000 children out of poverty.
  • Lowered taxes for middle class
    The middle class tax cut helps to strengthen the middle class, benefiting about 9 million Canadians each year. When middle class Canadians have more money in their pockets to save, invest, and grow the economy, we all benefit.
  • Increased taxes for the wealthiest 1%
    To help pay for the middle-class tax cut, we asked the wealthiest one per cent of Canadians to contribute a little more. Taken together, these changes give middle class Canadians a tax break by making taxes fairer.
  • Pan-Canadian plan for pricing carbon pollution
    Pricing carbon pollution is a crucial step toward reducing emissions, spurring innovation, and creating well-paying jobs, while protecting our air and water for our children and grandchildren.
  • Unmuzzled government scientists
    By unmuzzling government scientists and allowing them to share their expertise, the Liberal government has begun to restore science’s important role in national policy.
  • Reinstated the long-form census
    Canada’s long-form census makes it possible to include evidence-based decision making and reliable data in national policy creation. With a 98.4% response rate, Stats Canada experienced its “best census ever.”
  • Revitalized federal ocean science programs
    The hiring of 135 new aquatic scientists and new research partnerships is an important part of protecting Canada’s oceans, waterways, and fisheries.
  • Expansion and Protection of Rouge National Park
    The Liberal government continues to put Canada’s environment first by ensuring broad ecological protection of Rouge National Urban Park.
  • Strengthening the Canada Pension Plan
    Achieving an agreement in principle with provinces and territories to strengthen the CPP is a powerful step toward helping Canadians have a strong, secure and stable retirement.
  • Returned OAS eligibility to 65
    Returning the eligibility age back to 65 for Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement prioritizes how we care for older Canadians. It will put thousands of dollars back in the pockets of Canadians as they become seniors.
  • Increased Guaranteed Income Supplement payments for single seniors
    Strengthening income security for Canada’s most vulnerable single seniors reaffirms the government’s commitment to helping low-income seniors. This will improve the financial security of about 900,000 single seniors across Canada.
  • New funding for women’s shelters
    Budget 2016 provides significant new funding to ensure shelters and transition homes have the resources to help women and their families. An important step forward in the fight to end violence against women.
  • More money for infrastructure
    An historic $120 billion investment in infrastructure over 10 years will help strengthen Canadian communities and grow the economy.
  • Launched National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry
    After consulting with Canadians in a nation-wide process, the national inquiry into the disproportionate number of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls confirms the Liberal government’s commitment to put an end to this national tragedy.
  • Increased Nutrition North funding
    More funding for Nutrition North will provide better support for food security to Canadian families living in isolated communities.
  • Simplified Family Immigration
    The government’s ambitious new immigration plan places an increased effort on uniting families more quickly and easily once they arrive in Canada.
  • Legalized medical assistance in dying
    Bill C-14 offers the choice to die with dignity to eligible patients who are suffering intolerably.
  • Re-opened the Kitsilano Coast Guard Base
    Three years since the Conservatives shut it down, the Kitsilano Canadian Coast Guard base in Vancouver was reopened to keep our waters safe and clean.
  • Strengthened First Nations Education
    The Liberal government is making significant investments for primary and secondary education on reserves, part of a $2.6 billion commitment to make sure that every First Nations child receives a quality education.
  • Increased Canada Student Grants
    Increasing Canada Student Grants by 50% will help more than 350,000 students achieve a more prosperous future.
  • Prime Minister’s Youth Council
    The Prime Minister’s Youth Council is an opportunity for young Canadians to provide their input on national policy, and revitalizes youth engagement in government.
  • Revitalized Canada’s international profile
    Justin Trudeau and the Liberal team have rejuvenated Canada’s presence on the world stage, re-engaging in international policy and supporting global efforts.
  • Signed Paris Climate Change Agreement
    On April 22, 2016, Canada signed an international agreement to combat climate change and work towards a better global future.
  • Senate-appointment reform
    A new efficient and non-partisan appointment system ensures that the Canadian Senate is more open and democratic.
  • A focus on training and humanitarian aid in Syria
    A new military approach toward conflict in Iraq and Syria keeps the focus on training on the ground and humanitarian aid, ultimately leading to a more effective long-term solution.
  • Enhanced Services for Veterans
    By May 2017, the Liberal government will reopen and staff 9 Veterans Affairs service offices across the country which were closed by the previous government, while also opening a new office in Surrey, B.C. and expanding outreach to veterans in the North.

Honors/ Awards

  • 2018 Climate and Clean Air Awards Honouree.