Office of the Prime Minister

Dear Ms. McKenna:

I am honoured that you have agreed to serve Canadians as Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

We have promised Canadians a government that will bring real change – in both what we do and how we do it. Canadians sent a clear message in this election, and our platform offered a new, ambitious plan for a strong and growing middle class. Canadians expect us to fulfill our commitments, and it is my expectation that you will do your part in delivering on those promises to Canadians.

We made a commitment to invest in growing our economy, strengthening the middle class, and helping those working hard to join it. We committed to provide more direct help to those who need it by giving less to those who do not. We committed to public investment as the best way to spur economic growth, job creation, and broad-based prosperity. We committed to a responsible, transparent fiscal plan for challenging economic times.

I expect Canadians to hold us accountable for delivering these commitments, and I expect all ministers to do their part – individually and collectively – to improve economic opportunity and security for Canadians.  

It is my expectation that we will deliver real results and professional government to Canadians.  To ensure that we have a strong focus on results, I will expect Cabinet committees and individual ministers to: track and report on the progress of our commitments; assess the effectiveness of our work; and align our resources with priorities, in order to get the results we want and Canadians deserve.

If we are to tackle the real challenges we face as a country – from a struggling middle class to the threat of climate change – Canadians need to have faith in their government’s honesty and willingness to listen.  I expect that our work will be informed by performance measurement, evidence, and feedback from Canadians.  We will direct our resources to those initiatives that are having the greatest, positive impact on the lives of Canadians, and that will allow us to meet our commitments to them.  I expect you to report regularly on your progress toward fulfilling our commitments and to help develop effective measures that assess the impact of the organizations for which you are answerable.

I made a personal commitment to bring new leadership and a new tone to Ottawa. We made a commitment to Canadians to pursue our goals with a renewed sense of collaboration.  Improved partnerships with provincial, territorial, and municipal governments are essential to deliver the real, positive change that we promised Canadians. No relationship is more important to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples. It is time for a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.  

We have also committed to set a higher bar for openness and transparency in government.  It is time to shine more light on government to ensure it remains focused on the people it serves.  Government and its information should be open by default.  If we want Canadians to trust their government, we need a government that trusts Canadians.  It is important that we acknowledge mistakes when we make them.  Canadians do not expect us to be perfect – they expect us to be honest, open, and sincere in our efforts to serve the public interest.

Our platform guides our government.  Over the course of our four-year mandate, I expect us to deliver on all of our commitments.  It is our collective responsibility to ensure that we fulfill our promises, while living within our fiscal plan.  Other issues will arise or will be brought to our attention by Canadians, stakeholders, and the public service.  It is my expectation that you will engage constructively and thoughtfully and add priorities to your agenda when appropriate.

As Minister, you will be held accountable for our commitment to bring a different style of leadership to government. This will include: close collaboration with your colleagues; meaningful engagement with Opposition Members of Parliament, Parliamentary Committees and the public service; constructive dialogue with Canadians, civil society, and stakeholders, including business, organized labour, the broader public sector, and the not-for-profit and charitable sectors; and identifying ways to find solutions and avoid escalating conflicts unnecessarily. As well, members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, indeed all journalists in Canada and abroad, are professionals who, by asking necessary questions, contribute in an important way to the democratic process. Your professionalism and engagement with them is essential.

Canadians expect us, in our work, to reflect the values we all embrace:  inclusion, honesty, hard work, fiscal prudence, and generosity of spirit.  We will be a government that governs for all Canadians, and I expect you, in your work, to bring Canadians together.

You are expected to do your part to fulfill our government’s commitment to transparent, merit-based appointments, to help ensure gender parity and that Indigenous Canadians and minority groups are better reflected in positions of leadership.

As Minister of Environment and Climate Change, your overarching goal will be to take the lead in implementing the government’s plan for a clean environment and a sustainable economy.  Your key priority will be to ensure that our government provides national leadership to reduce emissions, combat climate change and price carbon.  I expect you to help restore Canada’s reputation for environmental stewardship.

In particular, I will expect you to work with your colleagues and through established legislative, regulatory, and Cabinet processes to deliver on your top priorities:

  • In partnership with provinces and territories, develop a plan to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, consistent with our international obligations and our commitment to sustainable economic growth.  You will attend the Paris climate conference with me and, upon our return, we will set a date to meet with provincial and territorial leaders to develop a pan-Canadian framework for addressing climate change.
  • In partnership with provinces and territories, establish national emissions-reduction targets, ensuring that the provinces and territories have targeted federal funding and the flexibility to design their own policies to meet these commitments, including their own carbon pricing policies.  These targets will recognise the economic cost and catastrophic impact that a greater-than-two-degree increase in average global temperatures would represent, as well as the need for Canada to do its part to prevent that from happening.  As part of this effort, support the Minister of Finance in creating a new Low Carbon Economy Trust to help fund projects that materially reduce carbon emissions under the new pan-Canadian framework.
  • Treat our freshwater as a precious resource that deserves protection and careful stewardship, including by working with other orders of government to protect Canada’s freshwater using education, geo-mapping, watershed protection, and investments in the best wastewater treatment technologies.  Work with the Minister of Finance to fulfill our G20 commitment and phase out subsidies for the fossil fuel industry over the medium-term.
  • Work in partnership with the United States and Mexico and the Ministers of Natural Resources and Foreign Affairs to develop an ambitious North American clean energy and environment agreement.
  • Support the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities in protecting our communities from the challenges of climate change and supporting them in the transition toward more sustainable economic growth by making significant new investments in green infrastructure.
  • Enhance protection of Canada’s endangered species by responding quickly to the advice of scientists and completing robust species-at-risk recovery plans in a timely way.
  • Work with provinces and territories to set stronger air quality standards, monitor emissions, and provide incentives for investments that lead to cleaner air and healthier communities.
  • Supported by the Ministers of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, and Natural Resources, immediately review Canada’s environmental assessment processes to regain public trust  and help get resources to market and introduce new, fair processes that will:
    • restore robust oversight and thorough environmental assessments of areas under federal jurisdiction, while also working with provinces and territories to avoid duplication;
    • ensure that decisions are based on science, facts, and evidence, and serve the public’s interest;
    • provide ways for Canadians to express their views and opportunities for experts to meaningfully participate; and
    • require project advocates to choose the best technologies available to reduce environmental impacts.
  • Develop Canada’s National Parks system, as well as manage and expand National Wildlife Areas and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries.
  • Develop Parks Canada programs and services so that more Canadians can experience our National Parks and learn more about our environment and heritage.
  • Make admission for all visitors to National Parks free in 2017, the 150th anniversary of Confederation.  Beginning in 2018, ensure that admission for children under 18 is free, and provide any adult who has become a Canadian citizen in the previous 12 months one year’s free admission.
  • Through an expanded Learn to Camp program, ensure that more low- and middle-income families have an opportunity to experience Canada’s outdoors.
  • Protect our National Parks by limiting development within them, and where possible, work with nearby communities to help grow local eco-tourism industries and create jobs.
  • Work with the Ontario government to enhance the country’s first urban National Park – Rouge National Urban Park – including improved legislation to protect this important ecosystem and guide how the park will be managed.
  • Working in collaboration with the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, renew our commitment to protect the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River Basin and the Lake Winnipeg Basin.
  • Work in collaboration with the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and the Minister of Science to examine the implications of climate change on Arctic marine ecosystems.
  • Work with the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard to increase the proportion of Canada’s marine and coastal areas that are protected – to five percent by 2017, and ten percent by 2020 – supported by new investments in community consultation and science.

These priorities draw heavily from our election platform commitments.  The government’s agenda will be further articulated through Cabinet discussions and in the Speech from the Throne when Parliament opens.

I expect you to work closely with your Deputy Minister and his or her senior officials to ensure that the ongoing work of your department is undertaken in a professional manner and that decisions are made in the public interest.  Your Deputy Minister will brief you on issues your department may be facing that may require decisions to be made quickly.  It is my expectation that you will apply our values and principles to these decisions, so that issues facing your department are dealt with in a timely and responsible manner, and in a way that is consistent with the overall direction of our government.

Our ability, as a government, to successfully implement our platform depends on our ability to thoughtfully consider the professional, non-partisan advice of public servants.  Each and every time a government employee comes to work, they do so in service to Canada, with a goal of improving our country and the lives of all Canadians.  I expect you to establish a collaborative working relationship with your Deputy Minister, whose role, and the role of public servants under his or her direction, is to support you in the performance of your responsibilities.

In the coming weeks, the Privy Council Office (PCO) will be contacting you to set up a meeting with PCO officials, your Deputy Minister and the Prime Minister’s Office to further discuss your plans, commitments and priorities.

We have committed to an open, honest government that is accountable to Canadians, lives up to the highest ethical standards, and applies the utmost care and prudence in the handling of public funds. I expect you to embody these values in your work and observe the highest ethical standards in everything you do. When dealing with our Cabinet colleagues, Parliament, stakeholders, or the public, it is important that your behaviour and decisions meet Canadians’ well-founded expectations of our government. I want Canadians to look on their own government with pride and trust.

As Minister, you must ensure that you are aware of and fully compliant with the Conflict of Interest Act and Treasury Board policies and guidelines. You will be provided with a copy of Open and Accountable Government to assist you as you undertake your responsibilities. I ask that you carefully read it and ensure that your staff does so as well. I draw your attention in particular to the Ethical Guidelines set out in Annex A of that document, which apply to you and your staff. As noted in the Guidelines, you must uphold the highest standards of honesty and impartiality, and both the performance of your official duties and the arrangement of your private affairs should bear the closest public scrutiny. This is an obligation that is not fully discharged by simply acting within the law. Please also review the areas of Open and Accountable Government that we have expanded or strengthened, including the guidance on non-partisan use of departmental communications resources and the new code of conduct for exempt staff.

I know I can count on you to fulfill the important responsibilities entrusted in you. In turn, please know that you can count on me to support you every day in your role as Minister.

I am deeply grateful to have this opportunity to serve with you as we build an even greater country. Together, we will work tirelessly to honour the trust Canadians have given us.

Yours sincerely,

Prime Minister of Canada signature

Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada