Peter Kent

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Honourable
Peter Kent
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Thornhill
Assumed office
Preceded by Susan Kadis
Minister of the Environment
In office
November 4, 2011 – July 15, 2013
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by John Baird
Succeeded by Leona Aglukkaq
Chair of the Standing Committee on
National Defence
Assumed office
October 29, 2013
Minister Rob Nicholson
Jason Kenney
Preceded by James Bezan
Personal details
Born (1943-07-27) July 27, 1943 (age 72)
Sussex, United Kingdom[1]
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Cilla Kent
Children Trilby Kent
Residence Thornhill, Ontario
Profession News editor

Peter Kent, PC, MP (born July 27, 1943) is a Conservative member of parliament for the riding of Thornhill, and the former Minister of the Environment in the 28th Canadian Ministry. Previously, he was Deputy Editor of the Global Television Network, a Canadian TV network. He has previously worked as a news editor, producer, foreign correspondent and news anchorman on Canadian and American television networks.


Kent was born in Sussex, England. The family moved to Canada and settled in Medicine Hat, Alberta. His parents were Aileen and Parker Kent (both now deceased). The elder Kent was a long-time employee of the Southam Newspaper Group who retired as associate editor of the Calgary Herald. Peter Kent's younger brother, Arthur, is also a journalist, known in the first Gulf War as the "scud stud".[2] There were three sisters, Adele and Norma and Susan. The latter, a book editor and writer, died in 2014.[3]

Peter Kent is married to Cilla, a former print journalist with South Africa's Argus newspaper group (a Cape Town paper now part of the Irish-based Independent News & Media) for over 26 years. They have a daughter, Trilby, who published her first novel, Medina Hill, in October 2009.[4]

Kent was a member of the board of Canadian Coalition for Democracies[5] and has represented them at public events such as a demonstration supporting publication of the controversial Muhammed cartoons.[6]

Kent is a member of the Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame and a past member of the Board of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television. He is also a Founding Supporter of Canadians for Defence and Security and a member of the board of the revitalized ParticipACTION. He is a board member of the controversial pro-Israel media advocacy group Honest Reporting Canada, and co-Chair of Ontario Cabinet for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.[7]

He was named the recipient of the 2006 President's Award from the Radio-Television News Directors Association of Canada (RTNDA). The President's Award is presented annually to honour individuals, stations, companies or groups who have brought distinction to, or have made major contributions to the broadcast news industry. He is a four-time Emmy nominee and the recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Award.[citation needed]


Kent began his career as a radio journalist in the early 1960s. He then moved to television, joining Calgary station CFCN-TV in 1965 and subsequently worked for CBC Television, CTV, Global, NBC and the Christian Science Monitor's television newscast.

In 1966, he went to South East Asia to cover the Vietnam War as a freelance foreign correspondent. He stayed on to cover the final withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam in 1973 and covered the fall of Cambodia to the Khmer Rouge in 1975.[8] Kent returned to Canada and worked as a producer for CBC's The National and, in 1976, he became the broadcast's anchorman after Lloyd Robertson moved to CTV News.

In 1978 Kent agreed to step down as anchorman of The National after he submitted an intervention to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) recommending that the Corporation's licence not be renewed until management created procedures and protocols to prevent political interference in the CBC's editorial decision-making. Kent's complaint involved messages conveyed through the then CBC President Al Johnson from the Prime Minister's Office that resulted in cancellation of a speech by Premier René Lévesque and coverage of a speech by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. As a result of his intervention and descent from The National anchor desk, Kent accepted assignment to the newly created African Bureau of the CBC, located in Johannesburg.

The CBC subsequently created protocols to govern Prime Ministerial access to the public broadcaster. They remain in effect today, and the most recent example was the speech made to the country by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien on the eve of the 1995 Quebec referendum. Kent returned briefly in 1978 to testify at a grievance hearing initiated by an unsuccessful anchor candidate who complained that Knowlton Nash, the vice-president of CBC News, had appointed himself to succeed Kent. In that testimony Kent—the first journalist to anchor The National—supported Nash's credentials.

Kent returned to Canada and the CBC in 1982 as a founding producer, correspondent and occasional co-host of The Journal, hosted by Barbara Frum and Mary Lou Finlay.

On Jan. 24, 1984, the CBC television program The Journal broadcast a full edition documentary called "The Greenhouse Effect and Planet Earth," hosted, narrated and written by Kent. Broadcast more than 27 years ago, this may be one of the first major media reports on the subject. Kent concluded with these words: "The greenhouse effect must be considered as the world's greatest environmental concern."[9]

In 1984 Kent moved to NBC serving in Miami, Washington and New York bureaus and as the US network's senior European correspondent in the late 1980s, winning four Emmy nominations with the network. He then reported for and was back-up anchorman for John Hart and John Palmer at the Christian Science Monitor's World Monitor television news service. One of Kent's feature report series - on challenges in American inner cities - was awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Award.

Kent returned to Canada to join Global News in 1992, and was the anchorman of its flagship news program First National until 2001. He then anchored the business news show MoneyWise on Global and Prime.

Political career[edit]

In the 2006 federal election, Kent ran as the Conservative Party of Canada candidate in the Toronto riding of St. Paul's. He placed second with 25.76% of the vote against the incumbent, Carolyn Bennett of the Liberals (50.25%), and ahead of Paul Summerville of the New Democratic Party (19.19%).

Kent ran again for the Conservatives in the 2008 election, this time in the riding of Thornhill, and was elected, defeating incumbent Susan Kadis by 5200 votes.[10]

Kent was named to the junior cabinet post of Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas) several weeks after the election. In an interview with journalist Steve Paikin on December 9, 2009, Kent acknowledged that as Minister, he is instructed to only use language vetted by the PMO, on occasion lifting Stephen Harper's statements from newspaper reports: "So when we're asked about the Israeli position on settlements, we never criticize Israel publicly. We say those settlements are 'unhelpful' in finding a comprehensive peace settlement. We've put on the record our position on nuclear power and India. We say 'it's no longer the 1970's, it's now 2009.' I saw the prime minister's quote in the newspapers to that effect yesterday, and so I used it today."[11] Kent's comment that his government does not criticize Israel publicly was contradicted several months later by his senior minister, Lawrence Cannon, who went on record in the House of Commons "condemning" Israel's expansion of illegal settlements.[12]

Minister of the Environment[edit]

In a cabinet shuffle on January 4, 2011, Kent was named Minister of the Environment.[13] His participation at the U.N. Climate Change Summit in Nov. 2011, has been controversial as it has been noted Canada plans to withdraw from the Kyoto protocol and is urging other countries to do the same - even though Canada is among the top 10 GHG polluter nations.[14]

As a result of Mr. Kent's performance at the Durban conference, including his stated intention to withdraw from Kyoto, opposition politicians raised objections during the December 14, 2011 session of the Canadian House of Commons. In response to one of Mr. Kent's comments, MP Justin Trudeau was heard to call Mr. Kent a "piece of shit," in contravention of established decorum of the House.[15]

As Minister of the Environment, Kent was a vocal supporter of the development of the oil sands, in line with the conservative government's stated economic priorities. He went so far as to make accusations of treason against opposition party members. "One of the opposition parties has taken the treacherous course of leaving the domestic debate and heading abroad to attack a legitimate Canadian resource which is being responsibly developed and regulated," Kent told reporters. This was in response to two NDP members of Parliament going to Washington to argue the Keystone pipeline should not go ahead until Canada has come up with a better plan to combat climate change.[16]

In a CBC interview, Kent stated there is no evidence that the oil sands developments are polluting the Athabasca River.[17][18] His statement was later contrasted by a "secret" Environment Canada presentation released under FOI. The presentation highlights contamination of the Athabasca River as a high profile concern. Citing elevated levels of pollutants near mining sites including hydrocarbons and heavy metals, possible effects on health of wildlife and downstream communities, and questioning current government data which is unable to generate a "big picture" view of impacts on the ecosystem.[19][20]

Kent was an advocate of improving the Species At Risk Act, in particular making it apply to whole ecosystems rather than just individual species.[21]


Kent was demoted from cabinet in the summer of 2013, shortly after his 70th birthday, in a cabinet shuffle which Prime Minister Harper described “generational change” in order to make room for younger MPs to become ministers.[22] He has been described by some critics such as environmentalist Rick Smith as “Canada’s Worst Environment Minister Ever” for allegedly being a "green rubber stamp for destructive, ill-considered, industrial behaviour, all while glibly blaming “foreign interests” for meddling with Canada’s overwhelmingly foreign-owned oil and gas sector" by restricting the ability of environmental assessment to limit pipeline construction, walking away from the Kyoto Protocol after the country had signed it, reducing protection for lakes and rivers, disbanding the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy and prohibiting it from making its research public and supporting the development of the oil sands despite concerns about its impact on the environment.[23][24]

Kent has named his accomplishments as being wastewaster regulation, changes to the Species at Risk Act and overseeing greenhouse gas regulations for vehicle emissions but that he regrets not being able to implement greenhouse gas regulations for the oil and gas industry.[22]


As a backbench MP, Kent has called on the government to fund HPV vaccinations for boys, in addition to current vaccination programs for girls, after he survived a bout with throat and tongue cancer at the end of 2013.[25] He also criticized the Harper government for drawing up an "enemies list" of uncooperative bureaucrats and hostile stakeholders.[26]

Kent has stated his intention of standing in the 2015 federal election despite his demotion from cabinet.[26]

Offices held[edit]

28th Ministry – Cabinet of Stephen Harper
Cabinet Post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
John Baird Minister of the Environment
Leona Aglukkaq

Election results[edit]


Canadian federal election, 2011
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Conservative Peter Kent 36,660 61.30% +12.29%
Liberal Karen Mock 14,224 23.80% -15.63%
New Democratic Simon Strelchik 7,106 11.90% +5.28%
Green Norbert Koehl 1,557 2.60% -2.34%
Animal Alliance Liz White 219 0.40%
Total valid votes 59,766 100.0%
Turnout 60.8%

Source: Elections Canada

Canadian federal election, 2008
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Conservative Peter Kent 26,660 49.01% +15.30% $91,400
Liberal Susan Kadis 21,448 39.43% -13.67% $62,484
New Democratic Simon Strelchik 3,601 6.62% -1.19% $4,835
Green Norbert Koehl 2,686 4.94% +1.51% $7,314
Total valid votes/Expense limit 54,395 100.00% $95,547
Total rejected ballots
Turnout  %

St. Paul's[edit]

Canadian federal election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
Liberal Carolyn Bennett 29,295 50.3 -8.1
Conservative Peter Kent 15,021 25.8 +5.4
New Democratic Paul Summerville 11,189 19.2 +3.5
Green Kevin Farmer 2,785 4.8 -0.7
Total valid votes 58,290 100.0


  1. ^ Kent aims to expose Liberal 'scaremongering'
  2. ^ Hilton, Andrew (Spring 1994). "The Scud Stud has Come Home". Ryerson Review of Journalism. Retrieved 2007-01-11. 
  3. ^ "Obituary: Aileen Susan Kent Davison". Te Star (Toronto). Toronto Star. Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  4. ^ "Author spotlight". Retrieved 2013-08-22. 
  5. ^ Goodard, John, "PM's new recruit urged to clarify views", Toronto Star, January 8, 2007.
  6. ^ "Toronto marchers back right to publish, CBC News, March 11, 2006, retrieved March 11, 2008.
  7. ^ Up close and personal with incumbent, challengers, retrieved May 9, 2011.
  8. ^ Peter Kent biography, accessed January 9, 2008
  9. ^ CBC News  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ CBC News  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. ^
  15. ^ CBC News  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. ^ Ljunggren, David (November 16, 2011). "Canadian MP says oil sands opponents "treacherous"". Reuters. 
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ "'Secret' Environment Canada Presentation Warns Of Oilsands' Impact On Habitat". Huffington Post. 2011-12-22. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Canadian Broadcasting Corporation - Kent eyes wildlife protection reform, but not in omnibus budget bill". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved September 21, 2012. 
  22. ^ a b "Shuffled out of cabinet – but hopefully not forgotten". Global News. July 16, 2013. Retrieved December 28, 2014. 
  23. ^ "Is Peter Kent’s trail of destruction finally coming to an end?". Toronto Star. July 11, 2013. Retrieved December 28, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Climate change opponent to oil sands promoter: Peter Kent's journey from journalist to Environment Minister". Vancouver Observer. May 25, 2013. Retrieved December 28, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Peter Kent wants Joe Oliver to fund HPV vaccine for boys". October 8, 2014. Retrieved December 28, 2014. 
  26. ^ a b "Peter Kent criticizes Harper's 'enemy' list, drawing comparison to Nixon era". Vancouver Observer. July 17, 2013. Retrieved December 28, 2014. 

External links[edit]