A letter to Stephen Harper about NRTEE

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

June 7, 2012

Prime Minister,

We, current and past members of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, are writing to state clearly and unequivocally that we oppose the elimination of this important, multi-stakeholder advisory body.

The NRTEE has become an international model for bringing diverse, even competing, interests together in an unbiased atmosphere to develop ideas and generate valuable and viable policy advice.  It has produced sound, well-researched reports on priority issues with realistic, innovative solutions based on high-quality research and analyses.  Over the years, these reports have provoked discussion – and much-needed change.

Inspired by the famous Brundtland Report, Our Common Future, the NRTEE was established in 1988 by former Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.  That prime minister saw the need for a unique national organization with a direct mandate from Parliament to reconcile and integrate the often-divergent challenges of economic prosperity and environmental conservation. 

In line with its 1993 parliamentary mandate, the NRTEE strives to illustrate how Canada can sustain its prosperity – without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

NRTEE members have included industry leaders, academics, environmentalists, First Nations, labour, and policy makers.  It also reaches out to expert organizations, industries, and individuals to assist in conducting its insightful and timely work. This unique collaborative process cannot be replaced by Internet research and/or individual consultation, as has been suggested.

As Canadians who have had the opportunity to contribute to sustainable development policies, we feel strongly that our contributions have strengthened the country’s public policy over the past two decades.  We have contributed expert advice on a wide range of subjects: energy, water, fisheries, air quality, climate change, ecological fiscal reform, and more.  These are all issues that have a direct impact on the lives of all Canadians.

One example of the NRTEE’s value to this country is its National Strategy for Canada on Brownfield Redevelopment.  It was groundbreaking, cutting through persistent obstacles to remediate urban contaminated sites so effectively that British Columbia, Ontario, New Brunswick , and Nova Scotia have all used the strategy for their brownfield remediation initiatives.  The federal government has clearly benefitted in tax revenue from the redevelopments.

Another example of policy implementation based on the NRTEE’s work dealt with the challenges of small woodlot management and inter-generational transfer.  This led to changes on the ground in New Brunswick and other provinces.

NRTEE findings on ecological fiscal reform led to improvements in capital gains treatment for the donation of ecologically sensitive lands, following work across Canada and in consultation with Finance Canada.

Another key role is the fact that the NRTEE seeks to raise awareness among Canadians and all levels of governments about the challenges and accomplishments of sustainable development. 

These examples serve to illustrate the NRTEE’s unique position within Canadian policy-making.  This ground-breaking work cannot be replaced by other processes – virtual or real.

In today’s uncertain economic times and vulnerable natural environment, the need for the NRTEE’s sage advice is greater than ever.  If this government truly cares about economic health and the long-term prosperity of the country, you will retain the NRTEE and recognize its value to Canada.  We call on you to reverse the decision to eliminate this important and valuable body.


Johanne Gélinas, Partner, Sustainability and Climate Change; former Commissioner for Environment and Sustainable Development in the Office of the Auditor-General

Janine Ferretti, former Executive-Director, Pollution Probe; former Executive-Director North American Commission for Environmental Co-operation

Bob Mills, former MP for Red Deer 1993 – 2008, Senior Environment Critic for the Conservatives (and the Canadian Alliance) 2001 – 2006; Chair of the Environment Committee 2006 – 2008

Jim MacNeill, O.C., Secretary-General, Brundtland Commission; Chief Architect and Lead Author of Our Common Future

Angus Ross, Chairman, L & A Concepts (Insurance Industry)

Karen A. Morgan, NRTEE Member 1991 – 1997

Joseph O`Neill, former Vice-President Woodlands Operations Repap Enterprises; Chair Canadian Pulp and Paper – Woodlands Section

Harvey L. Mead, Chair, NRTEE 2002 – 2005, Quebec Sustainable Development Commissioner 2007 – 2008

Leone Pippard, Principal, Leone Pippard & Associates; former Ms. Magazine “Woman of the Year”

Elizabeth May, O.C., Leader of Green Party of Canada; MP Saanich-Gulf Islands; Vice-Chair NRTEE 1994 – 2001

Mark Jaccard, Professor of Sustainable Energy, School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University, BC

Jean Belanger O.C.

Kenneth B. Ogilvie, Use President, Kenneth Ogilvie Consulting; former Executive-Director, Pollution Probe

Terry Duguid, former Chair Manitoba Clean Environment Commission

Elizabeth Jane Crocker, former Chair NRTEE Education Committee; Co-owner P’lovers Environmental Stores 

Patrick Carson, former V.P Environment, Loblaws

David V. J. Bell, Professor Emeritus, Senior Scholar and Former Dean, Faculty of

Environmental Studies, York University, ON

Judy G. Williams, Barrister & Solicitor, Vancouver, BC

Darren Allan Riggs, Superior Sanitation Services, Charlottetown, PEI

Dr. Bob Page, TransAlta Professor of Environmental Management and Sustainability; Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment, & Economy (ISEEE); former Chair NRTEE

Hon. John G. Leefe DCL, former Minister of Natural Resources, Government of John Hamm (Conservative), NS; Mayor, Region of Queens Municipality, Liverpool, NS

Hon. Mark Parent, former Minister of the Environment, Government of Premier Rodney MacDonald (Conservative), NS

John Houghton, former Chair, Canadian Pulp and Paper Association; former Chair, Atlantic Salmon Federation

R.C. (Reg) Basken, former Secretary-Treasurer of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada