Leaked: National Roundtable on the Environment and Economy's Final Farewell Report

Leaked: National Roundtable on the Environment and Economy's Final Farewell Report
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It is being reported today that Canada’s Minister of the Environment, Peter Kent, would not allow the public posting of a final report by the now-defunct National Roundtable on Energy and Environment (NRTEE), a 25-year old government funded project that brought together Canada’s brightest minds to work on the convergence of environmental sustainability and economic prosperity. 

Minister Kent’s order also prevents NRTEE materials from being transferred to a University of Ottawa think-tank, Sustainable Prosperity, where they will be made publicly available.

According to press reports, in response to a letter of request to post the final report from the acting NRTEE chair, Minister Kent wrote:

“…the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) will upload no further content to its external website, as of the date on which this direction is signed.”

DeSmog Canada has been sent a copy of the final report which is available in its entirety here: Reflections of Past Leaders of the NRTEE.

Minister Kent will also not allow 25-years worth of materials and research compiled by the NRTEE to remain publicly available on its website, raising fears amongst public stakeholders that the government may attempt to bury the documents. 

The final report is a fitting send-off for an organization with a history of 25 years, and contains reflections from past members on how valuable the NRTEE was to public dialogue on energy, environment and economic issues.

Former NRTEE chair and Canada’s current Governor General, his Right Honourable David Johnston writes:

“Another of the real achievements of the Round Table was to establish a broad network of interested parties from senior levels of government, the environmental sector, the business community, and academia. It was unique to have Cabinet Ministers in the same room as people from other sectors on a regular basis.”

Former NRTEE Robert (Bob) Page addresses the issue of the strained relationship between the group and the current Conservative government, writing:

“It was both a privileged advisor to governments and a conscience proposing new ways as constructive criticism of the status quo. Some Conservative officials were uncomfortable that the government was financing criticism when they wanted cheerleaders. For me this issue emerged in the careful wording required in every letter of transmittal and in the briefing of senior officials. We got a few bombs thrown our way when the Minister was suddenly confronted by the media. However, there was no reason for having an NRTEE unless it was exploring new ground for government consideration.”

Another former chair, Harvey Mead writes:

“The most important loss following upon the dissolution of the Round Table is not, in fact, that of an important advisor to the highest levels of government — the NRTEE was never that — but the loss of the honest broker known and respected throughout Canada by organizations and individuals deeply involved in the challenges associated with the country’s development.”
 
On the importance of the NRTEE today, former president David McLaughlin probably puts it best in his reflection that,
 
“Nothing is forever and no organization is essential. But if there was ever a time for Canada to consider how to bring the environment and the economy together, it is now.”
 
The NRTEE was the last remaining external advisory body to the government of Canada on the issues of climate change, sustainability and economic policy. It was canceled in last year’s controversial budget for a savings of $5 million. Minister Kent said the information provided by NRTEE could be sourced from the internet and other organizations in the future. 
 
Liberal MP David McGuinty, president of the body from 1996-2004, told Postmedia’s Mike De Souza the government is censoring information that shows current energy and environment policies are misguided.
 
“Minister Kent’s involvement at this level of detail is automatically a signal for me that they are trying to control information,” said McGuinty. “They really want to extinguish even the name of the organization. It’s Orwellian … It’s like burning books, burning the names, (or pretending) it never happened. And that’s just ridiculous.”

Members of the NRTEE expressed their disappointment with the Minister’s announcement in this final email address:

Leaked: National Roundtable on the Environment and Economy's Final Farewell Report

Kevin is a contributor and strategic adviser to DeSmogBlog.

He runs the digital marketing agency Spake Media House. Named a “Green Hero” by Rolling Stone Magazine and one of the “Top 50 Tweeters” on climate change and environment issues, Kevin has appeared in major news media outlets around the world for his work on digital campaigning.

Kevin has been involved in the public policy arena in both the United States and Canada for more than a decade. For five years he was the managing editor of DeSmogBlog.com. In this role, Kevin’s research into the “climate denial industry” and the right-wing think tank networks was featured in news media articles around the world. He is most well known for his ground-breaking research into David and Charles Koch’s massive financial investments in the Republican and tea party networks.

Kevin is the first person to be designated a “Certified Expert” on the political and community organizing platform NationBuilder.

Prior to DeSmogBlog, Kevin worked in various political and government roles. He was Senior Advisor to the Minister of State for Multiculturalism and a Special Assistant to the Minister of State for Asia Pacific, Foreign Affairs for the Government of Canada. Kevin also worked in various roles in the British Columbia provincial government in the Office of the Premier and the Ministry of Health.

In 2008 Kevin co-founded a groundbreaking new online election tool called Vote for Environment which was later nominated for a World Summit Award in recognition of the world’s best e-Content and innovative ICT applications.

Kevin moved to Washington, DC in 2010 where he worked for two years as the Director of Online Strategy for Greenpeace USA and has since returned to his hometown of Vancouver, Canada.

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