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Council of Canadians campaigners write Trudeau’s ministers

Ministers and critics

Photos: Cabinet ministers Chrystia Freeland, Carolyn Bennett, Catherine McKenna, Maryam Monsef and Jane Philpott. NDP critics Tracey Ramsey, Nathan Cullen, Don Davies and Charlie Angus.

Shortly after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named his cabinet on Nov. 4, Council of Canadians campaigners wrote his key ministers on issues of top concern to us.

On Nov. 5, trade campaigner Sujata Dey tweeted trade minister Chrystia Freeland and wrote the prime minister asking them to support a provision protecting a COP 21 climate agreement from investor-state challenges. She highlighted, “[Professor Gus] Van Harten has designed a mechanism to protect a future Paris climate agreement from the adverse effects of all trade agreements – whether existing, under negotiation, or arising in the future. The exemption clause will protect a future climate agreement from the investor-state dispute settlement provisions of trade agreements. …This important report, which we are championing, introduces an essential protection for a climate agreement.”

On Nov. 10, water campaigner Emma Lui wrote to Indigenous and northern affairs minister Carolyn Bennett. In that letter she noted, “While Prime Minister Trudeau has promoted Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) as a potential solution for the lack of clean water in Indigenous communities, we caution your governments promotion of P3s. The Office of the Auditor General of Ontario reported that P3 projects had cost the people of Ontario $8 billion in extra costs. P3s are often multi-decade contracts that threaten local democracy and open countries up to potential trade challenges. We hope that your government will explore public and community-led funding models for water and wastewater infrastructure.”

On Nov. 10, Lui also wrote environment minister Catherine McKenna to affirm, “We believe that fully restoring the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Fisheries Act, as well as developing further measures to ensure the protection of rivers, lakes and waterways from pollution, extraction and harm will contribute to making environmental and water oversight credible again.”

Also on Nov. 10, democracy campaigner Dylan Penner joined with the Open Media network in a letter to the prime minister stating, “I am writing to invite you to join Canadians in a conversation about Bill C-51. We know this legislation is reckless, dangerous, and ineffective. And we want to be a part of the solution.” That letter calls for “a national consultation about the public’s concerns on C-51” to take place “before new legislation is introduced” and “before Parliament resumes” highlighting that “engagement early in the legislative process is a key pillar of a more participatory democracy”.

On Nov. 12, energy and climate justice campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue joined with 100 other groups in a letter to environment minister Catherine McKenna to state, “We are writing to request that you immediately stop oil pipeline reviews currently underway, including Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain and TransCanada’s Energy East proposals, and fix the problems and weaknesses in the environmental assessment process identified through a public review process.”

And on Nov. 13, health care campaigner Michael Butler wrote health minister Jane Philipott to note, “It is our hope that the new federal government reserves Harper government’s change to a per capita Canadian Health Transfer model, and to implement a 6 per cent escalator for federal transfers to the provinces to reach a minimum goal of 25 per cent federal funding of provincial health care costs. …[And] with one in ten Canadians not being able to afford their prescription medications, you have a unique opportunity to institute a universal and comprehensive pharmacare program.”

To read Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow’s Nov. 6 letter, please see A Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau. And for a complete list of the demands the Council of Canadians is seeking from the new government, please see the Oct. 30 blog, Council of Canadians wants real change from the Trudeau government.

And now that the NDP has announced their shadow cabinet, we will also be in contact with those key critics, including Tracey Ramsey (trade), Nathan Cullen (environment and climate change, democratic institutions), Don Davies (health) and Charlie Angus (Indigenous and northern affairs).