Catherine McKenna

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Catherine McKenna

Catherine McKenna 2016.jpg
26th Minister of the Environment
and Climate Change
Assumed office
November 4, 2015
Prime MinisterJustin Trudeau
Preceded byLeona Aglukkaq
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Ottawa Centre
Assumed office
October 19, 2015
Preceded byPaul Dewar
Personal details
Catherine Mary McKenna

(1971-08-05) August 5, 1971 (age 48)
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Political partyLiberal
Spouse(s)Scott Gilmore[1]
ResidenceThe Glebe, Ottawa
Alma mater

Catherine Mary McKenna PC MP (born August 5, 1971) is a Canadian Liberal politician, who was elected to represent the riding of Ottawa Centre in the House of Commons of Canada in the 2015 federal election. She was appointed as Minister of Environment and Climate Change in the Cabinet, headed by Justin Trudeau, on November 4, 2015.


After graduating from École élémentaire catholique Notre-Dame (her father insisted that all his children be bilingual despite not knowing any French himself)[2] and then Saint Mary Catholic Secondary School[3] in Hamilton, Ontario, McKenna attended the University of Toronto and studied French and International Relations. After graduating from the University of Toronto, she filmed a documentary in Asia, "Real Travels: 60 days in Indonesia." McKenna then completed a master's degree in International Relations at the London School of Economics and a law degree at McGill.[4][5]

While studying at the University of Toronto, McKenna was captain of the national champion varsity swim team. She continues to train and compete with the National Capital YMCA Masters Swim Team.[6]


Legal career[edit]

McKenna is trained as a human rights and social justice lawyer.[7] In 2005, McKenna co-founded Canadian Lawyers Abroad - Avocats canadiens à l’étranger (CLA-ACE), now called Level [1], a University of Ottawa-based charity that helps Canadian law students and law firms do pro bono legal work in developing countries.[1][7][8]

McKenna was a senior negotiator with the United Nations peacekeeping mission in East Timor which culminated in the Timor Sea Treaty providing for the joint exploitation of petroleum resources in a part of the Timor Sea.[9] She is also a lecturer at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs.[7]

McKenna has practised law at leading firms in Indonesia, focusing on international trade, competition, investment and constitutional issues. In 2002, she joined Stikeman Elliott LLP, working in the areas of competition, trade, and constitutional law.[4] During this time she was senior counsel on the Right Honourable Antonio Lamer's review of Canada's military justice system.[10]


McKenna has taught at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs and was a board member at the Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.[10]


McKenna was, before entering politics, the Executive Director of Level, a charity that she cofounded.[6] Level is described as a catalyst for positive and social change. They believe that uniting the power of people, education and law will lead to a more equitable and just society.[11] McKenna is also known for her Dare to Dream program that mentors and inspires Aboriginal students through justice education and outreach activities by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal lawyers. The program was piloted in Toronto and has now expanded to Calgary and Ottawa.[6]

Federal politics[edit]

McKenna on November 4, 2015, shortly before being sworn into cabinet.
McKenna speaking at Chatham House in 2017

In the 2015 federal election, McKenna defeated longtime New Democratic Party (NDP) Member of Parliament (MP) Paul Dewar in the riding of Ottawa Centre.[12] McKenna said that she knocked on 100,000 doors during her 522 days as a candidate.[13] McKenna was elected with 43% of the votes compared to Dewar's 38%.[14] McKenna had campaigned on issues such as reforming the National Capital Commission, funding for a new main branch of the Ottawa Public Library, and opposing the proposed Memorial to the Victims of Communism.[12]

McKenna is one of 50 women elected to the Liberal caucus.[13]

Minister of Environment and Climate Change[edit]

McKenna was appointed Minister of Environment and Climate Change in Justin Trudeau's first cabinet on November 4, 2015.[15] One of her first appearances as Minister of Environment and Climate Change was at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.[16]

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.[17]

Some of McKenna's critics have derisively nicknamed her "Climate Barbie", a label McKenna considers a sexist insult.[18] 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).[19] 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".[20] 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".[21]

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.[22][23]

Personal life[edit]

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.[2][3][24] On August 14, 1999, McKenna married entrepreneur and writer Scott Gilmore, with whom she has lived since 2002 in The Glebe, Ottawa.[1][2] They have two daughters and one son.[2] The actor Patrick Gilmore is Catherine's brother-in-law.

Community involvement[edit]

McKenna is the past Vice-President of the Glebe Community Association and has served as a board member of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa and the Good Morning Creative Arts and Preschool.[10]

Electoral record[edit]

2015 Canadian federal election: Ottawa Centre
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Catherine McKenna 32,111 42.66 +22.54 $192,865.14
New Democratic Paul Dewar 29,098 38.54 −13.62 $196,692.80
Conservative Damian Konstantinakos 10,943 14.49 −7.14 $74,191.60
Green Tom Milroy 2,246 2.97 −2.06 $5,564.56
Libertarian Dean T. Harris 551 0.73
Rhinoceros Conrad Lukawski 167 0.22 $2.96
Marijuana John Andrew Omowole Akpata 160 0.21
Communist Stuart Ryan 124 0.16
Total valid votes/Expense limit 75,500 100.00   $233,540.54
Total rejected ballots 386 0.51
Turnout 75,886 82.82
Eligible voters 91,625
Liberal gain from New Democratic Swing +18.08
Source: Elections Canada[25][26][27]


  1. ^ a b c "Small NGO, big results". Ottawa Citizen. January 7, 2015. Archived from the original on March 24, 2016. Retrieved October 31, 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  2. ^ a b c d McKercher, Ian (April 9, 2015). "Catherine McKenna and the future we want for our children". The Glebe Report. Retrieved November 15, 2015.
  3. ^ a b Peters, Ken (November 4, 2015). "Hamilton women who packed some political punch". Hamilton Spectator. Retrieved November 4, 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Catherine McKenna – Master of Global Affairs". Master of Global Affairs. Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  5. ^ Sibley, Robert (October 20, 2015). "McKenna upsets Dewar in Ottawa Centre". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved November 4, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c "Biography". Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  7. ^ a b c Wood, Michael (August 15, 2015). "Ottawa Centre profile: Liberal candidate Catherine McKenna". Metro News. Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  8. ^ Taylor-Vaisey, Nick (October 3, 2014). "An escalator pitch from Catherine McKenna on Canada in 2020". Maclean's. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  9. ^ "Catherine McKenna bio". Government of Canada. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  10. ^ a b c Toolkit, Web Experience. "The Honourable Catherine McKenna". Prime Minister of Canada. Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  11. ^ Level. "About Level". Level. Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  12. ^ a b Helmer, Aedan (October 20, 2015). "Catherine McKenna scores huge victory in NDP stronghold". Ottawa Sun. Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  13. ^ a b Blanchfield, Mike. "Chief, mayors, refugees: rookie Liberals bring diverse job experience to caucus". Archived from the original on November 17, 2015. Retrieved November 16, 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  14. ^ "CBC News: Election 2015 roundup". Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  15. ^ "Full list of Justin Trudeau's cabinet". CBC News.
  16. ^ "Environment minister looking for 'ambitious' deal at climate summit". CTVNews. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  17. ^ "Canada's Minister of Environment and Climate Change leads clean-technology business delegation to China and meets with the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development". Canada NewsWire. December 3, 2016. Retrieved December 7, 2016.
  18. ^ DiManno, Rosie. "On 'Climate Barbie' and the art of the insult". Toronto Star. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  19. ^ "Canada MP sorry for Catherine McKenna 'climate Barbie' remark". BBC News. September 20, 2017. Retrieved September 20, 2017.
  20. ^ "Gerry Ritz apologizes for calling Catherine McKenna 'climate Barbie'". CBC News. September 20, 2017. Retrieved September 20, 2017.
  21. ^ Campion-Smith, Bruce (September 20, 2017). "Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer condemns 'Barbie' insult by his own MP". Toronto Star. Retrieved September 20, 2017.
  22. ^ "Catherine McKenna avoids Ont. government, imposes climate change agenda through municipalities, corporations". Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  23. ^ Canada, Environment and Climate Change; Canada, Environment and Climate Change (November 8, 2018). "Government of Canada to support energy efficiency and climate action in Ontario". gcnws. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  24. ^ Catherine McKenna [@cathmckenna] (October 18, 2015). "Tomorrow's a big day. Thankful that I have my mom & dad in town. I owe so much to them. #RealChangeStartsAtHome #lpc" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  25. ^ "Voter Information Service - Who are the candidates in my electoral district?".
  26. ^ Elections Canada – Preliminary Election Expenses Limits for Candidates Archived August 15, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Canada, © 2013 - Élections. "Résultats du soir d'élection - Circonscriptions".

External links[edit]

29th Ministry – Cabinet of Justin Trudeau
Cabinet post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
Leona Aglukkaq Minister of the Environment and Climate Change
November 4, 2015 – present