Peter Kent

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The Honourable
Peter Kent
Peter Kent.jpg
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Thornhill
Assumed office
October 14, 2008
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. Before entering politics, he was Deputy Editor of the Global Television Network, a Canadian TV network. He has 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]


Kent at the 2000 Gemini Awards.

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 January 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.

In 1987, Peter Kent was a reporter on the team that produced the documentary “Six Days Plus 20 Years: A Dream Is Dying” which was condemned by both the Israeli left and right, including Premier Yitzhak Shamir, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who were some of several Israeli government officials who refused to engage with NBC for a period of time afterwards.[10][11][12] 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.[13]

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 7, 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."[14] 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.[15]

Minister of the Environment[edit]

In a cabinet shuffle on January 4, 2011, Kent was named Minister of the Environment.[16]

In November 2011, Kent participated in the Durban Conference and in December of the same year announced that Canada would formally begin the process to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.[17] Kent stated that “Kyoto, for Canada, is in the past,” predicted that other countries would also abandon Kyoto, and expressed his hope that a new agreement could be forged by 2015 that included the United States and China, the top two polluters.[17] Kent claimed that the only way for Canada to avoid paying $14 billion of carbon offset penalties for failing to meet its Kyoto commitments was to withdraw, although there is no mechanism for fines in Kyoto, and Canada could have joined countries such as Japan that stayed in Kyoto without accepting new targets.[17][18]

While defending the withdrawal from Kyoto during the December 14, 2011 session of the Canadian House of Commons, Kent criticized NDP Environment Critic Megan Leslie for not being at the Durban Conference despite his ministry having banned participation from all opposition MPs.[19] During the heckling from opposition MPs over this statement, Justin Trudeau shouted "You piece of shit!" at Kent, but later apologized for losing his temper over Kent's statements regarding opposition participation in Durban.[19] In December 2012, Canada became the first country to formally withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol.[18]

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.[20]

In a CBC interview, Kent stated there is no evidence that the oil sands developments are polluting the Athabasca River.[21][22] 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.[23][24]

Kent was an advocate of improving the Species At Risk Act, in particular making it apply to whole ecosystems rather than just individual species.[25]


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.[26] 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.[27][28]

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.[26]


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.[29] He also criticized the Harper government for drawing up an "enemies list" of uncooperative bureaucrats and hostile stakeholders.[30]

Prior to his demotion from cabinet, Kent stated his intention of running in the 2015 federal election.[30][31] Kent was re-elected on October 19, 2015.[32][33]

Electoral record[edit]

Canadian federal election, 2015: Thornhill
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Conservative Peter Kent 31,911 58.60 -4.59
Liberal Nancy Coldham 18,395 33.80 +11.31
New Democratic Lorne Cherry 2,814 5.20 -6.29
Green Josh Rachlis 627 1.20 -1.28
Libertarian Gene Balfour 587 1.10
Seniors Margaret Leigh Fairbairn 157 0.30
Total valid votes/Expense limit 54,491 100.0     $215,928.93
Total rejected ballots 324 0.59 +0.13
Turnout 54,815 67.20 +6.22
Eligible voters 81,106
Conservative hold Swing -7.95
Source: Elections Canada[34][35]
Canadian federal election, 2011: Thornhill
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Conservative Peter Kent 36,629 61.38 +12.37
Liberal Karen Mock 14,125 23.67 -15.76
New Democratic Simon Strelchik 7,141 11.97 +5.35
Green Norbert Koehl 1,562 2.62 -2.32
Animal Alliance Liz White 215 0.36
Total valid votes/Expense limit 59,672 100.00
Total rejected ballots 275 0.46
Turnout 59,947 60.98
Eligible voters 98,312
Conservative hold Swing +14.07
Canadian federal election, 2008: Thornhill
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
Conservative gain from Liberal Swing +14.49
Canadian federal election, 2006: St. Paul's
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
Liberal hold Swing -6.75


  1. ^ Kent aims to expose Liberal 'scaremongering'
  2. ^ Hilton, Andrew (Spring 1994). "The Scud Stud has Come Home". Ryerson Review of Journalism. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 
  3. ^ "Obituary: Aileen Susan Kent Davison". The Star (Toronto). Toronto Star. Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  4. ^ "Author spotlight". Retrieved 2015-10-23. 
  5. ^ Goodard, John, "PM's new recruit urged to clarify views", Toronto Star, January 8, 2007.
  6. ^ "Toronto marchers back right to publish Muhammad cartoons". CBC News. March 11, 2006. Retrieved October 23, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Up close and personal with incumbent, challengers". York April 26, 2011. Retrieved October 23, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Peter Kent biography" (PDF). Retrieved October 23, 2015. 
  9. ^ "The greenhouse effect and planet Earth". CBC Archives. January 24, 1984. Retrieved October 23, 2010. 
  10. ^ Corry, John (July 1, 1987). "Six Days Plus 20 Years". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 October 2015. 
  11. ^ "NBC and Israel Agree". Jewish Telegraph Agency. August 3, 1987. Retrieved 9 October 2015. 
  12. ^ Schwed, Mark (July 28, 1987). "NBC says Israel bans leaders from talking to network". UPI. Retrieved 9 October 2015. 
  13. ^ "Thornhill – Canada Votes". CBC News. October 14, 2008. Retrieved October 23, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Three Questions for Peter Kent". tvo. December 7, 2009. Retrieved October 23, 2009. 
  15. ^ Ivison, John (September 7, 2010). "Minister defends Canada’s support of Israel". National Post. Retrieved October 23, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Kent, Fantino take cabinet posts". CBC News. January 4, 2011. Retrieved October 23, 2015. 
  17. ^ a b c Curry, Bill and Shawn McCarthy (6 September 2012). "Canada formally abandons Kyoto Protocol on climate change". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  18. ^ a b De Souza, Mike (14 December 2012). "It’s official: Harper government withdraws from Kyoto climate agreement". Postmedia. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  19. ^ a b Fitzpatrick, Meagan (14 December 2011). "Justin Trudeau apologizes for swearing at Kent". CBC News. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  20. ^ Ljunggren, David (November 16, 2011). "Oil sands opponents "treacherous": Canadian environment minister". Reuters. Retrieved October 23, 2015. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ Wherry, Aaron (January 10, 2011). "'It's bait and switch'". Maclean's. Retrieved October 23, 2015. 
  23. ^ "'Secret' Environment Canada Presentation Warns Of Oilsands' Impact On Habitat". Huffington Post. 2011-12-22. 
  24. ^ "'Secret' Environment Canada study warns of oil sands' impact on habitat". Financial Post. Postmedia. December 22, 2011. Retrieved October 23, 2015. 
  25. ^ "Kent eyes wildlife protection reform, but not in omnibus budget bill". CBC News. September 15, 2012. Retrieved October 23, 2015. 
  26. ^ a b "Shuffled out of cabinet – but hopefully not forgotten". Global News. July 16, 2013. Retrieved December 28, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Is Peter Kent’s trail of destruction finally coming to an end?". Toronto Star. July 11, 2013. Retrieved December 28, 2014. 
  28. ^ "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. 
  29. ^ "Peter Kent wants Joe Oliver to fund HPV vaccine for boys". CBC News. October 8, 2014. Retrieved December 28, 2014. 
  30. ^ a b "Peter Kent criticizes Harper's 'enemy' list, drawing comparison to Nixon era". Vancouver Observer. July 17, 2013. Retrieved December 28, 2014. 
  31. ^ "Peter Kent says he won't be upset to lose cabinet post". CBC News. July 5, 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2015. 
  32. ^ "Conservative Peter Kent wins re-election in Thornhill". Toronto Star. October 20, 2015. Retrieved October 23, 2015. 
  33. ^ "Liberals sweep Brampton, Mississauga". CBC News. October 19, 2015. Retrieved October 23, 2015. 
  34. ^ Elections Canada – Confirmed candidates for Thornhill, 30 September 2015
  35. ^ Elections Canada – Preliminary Election Expenses Limits for Candidates

External links[edit]

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