The Hon. Catherine McKenna, Former Member of Parliament for Ottawa, Centre and Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Distinguished Fellow

The Hon. Catherine McKenna is Canada's former Minister of Environment and Climate Change as well as Minister of Infrastructure. She is the Principal of Climate and Nature Solutions, an advisory firm focused on scaling action and financing to tackle the climate crisis. She chaired the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Expert Group on Net-Zero setting out criteria for net zero commitments of business, financial institutions, cities and regions. She is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Columbia University and founded Women Leading on Climate.

As Canada’s former Minister of Environment and Climate Change she was a lead negotiator of the Paris Agreement (Article 6 on carbon markets). She successfully negotiated Canada’s first comprehensive climate change plan including a coal phase out and a price on carbon across Canada — a policy successfully upheld at the Supreme Court. She brought in Canada's new Impact Assessment Act for the review of major projects, led efforts to ban single use plastics, and doubled the amount of nature protected in Canada in partnership with Indigenous Peoples. Internationally she helped establish the Powering Past Coal Coalition, the Ministerial on Climate Action and the Nature Champions Summit

As Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, she led Canada's historic investments in public transit and green infrastructure, leveraged private sector investment in sustainable infrastructure through the Canada Infrastructure Bank, and launched Canada’s first National Infrastructure Assessment to drive to net-zero emissions by 2050.

Originally from Hamilton, Ms. McKenna visited Mohawk College on several occasions during her time in parliament. A strong supporter of the college’s work on Climate Action, in 2018 she publicly voiced her support for Mohawk College and Hamilton when she spoke out against the province’s decision to withdraw funding needed to support the Centre for Climate Change Management and the Bay Area Climate Change Office. She later helped to secure additional funding for these initiatives including $262,000 in direct support for the Centre for Climate Change Management through the federal government’s Climate Action Fund. She continues to be a friend of the college and recently showed her support for Canadian Colleges for a Resilient Recovery by recording a special welcome message for the consortium’s inaugural meeting.

Prior to entering politics, Catherine practiced corporate, trade and anti-trust law at leading firms in Canada and Indonesia, worked as lead negotiator on the Timor Sea Treaty with the UN Peacekeeping Mission to East Timor and founded Canadian Lawyers Abroad (now Level Justice). She is called to the Bars of New York and Ontario. She is a mother to three kids and an avid open water swimmer.