As first reported by the Canadian Press Sunday, Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna is quitting politics. The announcement came only six weeks after she announced federal funding for the Hamilton LRT project. McKenna said she wanted to spend more time with her teenage children, and to devote her future endeavors towards fighting climate change.
McKenna won the riding of Ottawa Centre upsetting the incumbent NDP member the late Paul Dewar. Prior to politics McKenna was a lawyer. In 2005, McKenna co-founded Canadian Lawyers Abroad – now called Level, a University of Ottawa-based charity that helps Canadian law students and law firms do pro bono legal work in developing countries. 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.
McKenna was appointed Minister of Environment and Climate Change in Justin Trudeau’s first cabinet on November 4, 2015. She attended the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. In this position, she played a significant role in implementing Trudeau’s Environmental policy. During her time in Environment, she attracted critics over her strong stand on the environment—at one point being called “Climate Barbie” by a Tory member Gerry Ritz, who later was rebuked by his then leader Andrew Scheer and had to apologize. Dorling the 2019 election her office was spray painted with an obscenity.
After the 2019 election Trudeau moved her to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Communities, but even in that role, her focus was strongly oriented towards climate issues. In her announcement about LRT in Hamilton in May, she repeatedly referred to the environmental aspects of electric transit. In the past year she had visited several Canadian cities distributing cash for electric bus conversion. Her resignation today was immediately greeted by speculation that the Ottawa riding might be the setting for the launch of a political career for former Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney in the next election.