Speaker Profiles

The Honourable Catherine McKenna

The Honourable Catherine McKenna

Former Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Government of Canada

Catherine McKenna, Climate Advocate, Former Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister of Infrastructure and Communities for Canada

One of the West’s leading climate advocates, Catherine McKenna was elected in 2015 as a Member of Parliament and was named to Justin Trudeau’s first Cabinet as Minister of Environment and Climate Change until 2019. She went on to become Minister of Infrastructure and Communities from 2019-2021. Catherine recently announced that she would not seek re-election, to focus on her three children and on scaling climate and nature solutions globally.

In her role as Canada’s second longest-serving Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine represented Canada at COP21, the UN Climate Conference, helping negotiate the Paris Agreement. She led the negotiation of Canada’s first comprehensive climate plan including a price on pollution, a coal phaseout across the country and the doubling of the amount of nature protected in Canada in partnership with Indigenous Peoples. She helped establish a number of global initiatives including the Ministerial on Climate Action, the Powering Past Coal Coalition, Women Kicking It on Climate, and the Nature Champions Summit.

As Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Catherine was responsible for implementing over $100 billion in infrastructure investments and oversaw the revamping of the $35 billion Canada Infrastructure Bank which leverages private sector capital to build more sustainable infrastructure in the public interest. She helped develop and implement Canada's Build Back Better Plan including historic investments in Canada’s first permanent public transit, electric bus, active transit and natural infrastructure funds, and established Canada’s first National Infrastructure Assessment to ensure that Canada’s infrastructure investments are consistent with the goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

Before politics, Catherine worked as a trade and competition lawyer at Stikeman Elliott LLP, worked in corporate law in Indonesia, and worked on the UN Peacekeeping Mission in East Timor as legal advisor on the Timor Sea Treaty negotiations. She co-founded and was the Executive Director of Level Justice, a charitable organization that levels barriers to justice jn Canada and Abroad and was on the board and was the Executive Director of the Banff Forum. Catherine taught at the Munk School of Global Affairs, was a board member of the Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, and is called to the Bars of New York and Ontario. She is an open water swimmer and this summer complete Most importantly she is the mother to three awesome kids.

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