Tuesday, November 17, 2009

NRTEE: Conservative Partisanship

The supposed independent National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy is filled with partisan appointments. Of the current 19 members, 11 have strong associations with the Conservative Party, being members, donors, candidates, former MPs, while another 2 have demonstrated they are aligned ideologically.

In doing an assignment for a class on environmental economics at the University of British Columbia Okanagan I was reviewing articles on BC's carbon tax and this article got my attention. The CBC piece cites this report done by the National Round Table on the Environment and Economy that concludes a cap and trade system is to be preferred over a carbon tax. What is of interest is that the independent Round Table comes to a conclusion that just so happens to coincide with the Conservative government's preference of a Cap-and-Trade system instead of the more academically acclaimed carbon tax.

This coincidence motivated a review of the Round Table's members, and what was quickly evident was that a clear majority were intimately associated with the Conservative Party, either being contributers, members, candidates, and even former MPs.

Of the 19 members who contributed to the report, eleven were found to hold strong associations with the Conservative Party: Eight being previous conservative candidates, MPs, or conservative advisors and three that have made donations to conservative parties). Two of the other members have weaker asociations with the Conservative Party: Robert Slater, a civil servant, worked under Trudeau, Mulroney, and Chretien, but had a larger role under Mulroney, while Brubaker has written a substantial amount on conservative environmentalism.

NRTEE Members With A Strong Conservative Association:

President and CEO David McLaughlin - Chief of staff to Brian Mulroney, as well as up until most recently, to Jim Flaherty, (see sixth paragraph from bottom).

Chair Robert Page - Contributed 500 dollars to Conservatives in the last election, just a month after getting his patronage appointment (see picture right).

Anthony Dale - Advisor to the Ontario Conservative government from 1995-2001

Pauline Browes
- Former Progressive Conservative MP

Timothy R. Haig
- As President and CEO of Biox, his company donated $2000 to Conservative candidates in 2006, just months before getting the patronage appointment (See picture right)

Christopher Hilkene
- Served as advisor to Federal Conservative Minister of the Environment and the Progressive Conservative provincial counterpart in Ontario.

Ken McKinnon
- Leadership candidate for the Yukon conservative party.

Robert (Bob) Mills
- Reform Party, Canadian Alliance and Conservative Party MP from 1993-2008.

Richard Prokopanko
- Tory insider and political assistant to Mulroney.

Robert Sopuck
- Currently seeking to be a Conservative Party candidate.

Donald MacKinnon
- In 2007 contributed $200 to the Ontario Progressive Conservatives.

Members With Some Conservative Alignment:

Elizabeth Brubaker - Writer who has contributed to growing conservative environmental literature, from electronic sources; to books, such as this one published by the conservative-minded Fraser Institute; to magazines, such as "The Next City Magazine" which has gone as far as to advocate for the privatization of forests, sewage and water treatment facilities, and medicare, among other things.

Robert Slater
- Public servant who worked with Liberal and Conservative governments but had a close relationship with Brian Mulroney. Slater headed many of Mulroney's environmental programs and was personally thanked by the former Progressive Conservative Prime Minister.

Members With No Conservative Alignment:

Janet L.R. Benjamin - President of Vireo Technologies, a company in the plug-in hybrid car industry, and Past President of Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC.

Angus Bruneau
- Former Petro Canada director, former professor, and a member of many sustainable energy groups.

Francine Dorion
- Completed a 27 year career at Abitibi-Consolidated, a pulp and paper company, and Dorion has also been a member of various forestry management groups.

Wishart Robson
- Previously worked for Nexens, a large oil company in Alberta.

Mark Jaccard
- Professor at Simon Fraser University.

David Chernushenko
- Former deputy leader of the Green Party of Canada.

(And since the report, the partisan appointments have continued.)

Recently added members:

Leah Lawrence - Progressive Conservative Alberta Candidate 2008 , see this article also.

John V. Hachey
- Ran as a Progressive Conservative in 1997 and contributed 138 dollars to the Ontario Progressive Conservatives in 1998, see here.

Diane Cunningham
- Progressive Conservative MPP (Ontario).

Franklin Holtforster
- President and CEO of MHPM Project Managers Inc., a properties company dealing in construction.


It must be noted that it is not just with this Conservative government that the NRTEE has become nothing more than a partisan entity. Under previous Liberal governments the Round Table had its share of political appointments such as with Liberals David McGuinty and Glen Murray; however there is an important difference, the Liberals did not come close to the number of political appointments that the Conservatives have made to this body.

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