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Liberals’ new cabinet more eco-friendly than oil-friendly

Ottawa Centre MP and lawyer Catherine McKenna is heading the environment and climate change portfolio, while Winnipeg South Centre MP, business leader and former journalist Jim Carr is taking over natural resources.

Huge expectations await Canada’s new environment and natural resources ministers, who will have to hit the ground running to deliver on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s climate change and environment priorities so bitumen pipelines can move forward.

Ottawa Centre MP and lawyer Catherine McKenna is heading the environment and climate change portfolio, while Winnipeg South Centre MP, business leader and former journalist Jim Carr is taking over natural resources.

Highlighting the importance and connection between the two, Trudeau established a cabinet committee on the environment, climate change and energy that will be chaired by former Liberal leader and now foreign affairs minister Stephane Dion, also known for championing carbon taxes in 2008 as part of his unsuccessful Green Shift program.

“I don’t think it’s panic-button stuff, but if you are looking to dig just below the surface … the cabinet committee would be very environment friendly rather than resource friendly,” said one Calgary-based energy industry observer.

It’s not gone unnoticed, either, that both portfolios are headed by representatives of regions outside Canada’s major oil producing centres.

During the election campaign, the Liberals said they would work with the provinces to put a price on carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but were also supportive of building new pipelines.

“Canada needs new infrastructure, including pipelines, to move our energy resources to domestic and global markets,” the Liberals said. “However these projects must earn the trust of local communities, respect Indigenous rights, and cannot put our lands and waters at risk.” They also said blamed the Conservatives’ “polarizing approach to resource development and pipelines” for keeping projects from moving forward.

The new approach involves McKenna leading a hefty Canadian delegation to Paris at the end of this month for the United Nations meeting to negotiate a new global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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