THE IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON CANADIAN-U.S. DEFENSE.

Date01 January 2020
AuthorMacKay, John

The Honorable John McKay

MR. PETRAS: And now it is time for our luncheon keynote presentation, which is going to take another and different look at the impact of climate change, that from the perspective of national security and national defense.

And to introduce our afternoon keynote luncheon speaker is our own executive committee member, former Secretary of Defense for Canada, former Attorney General for Canada, Peter MacKay.

(Applause.)

MR. MacKAY: Thank you very much, Stephen. I want to thank the Institute and everyone for being here for this important discussion. I have the real pleasure to introduce John McChi or McKay, depending on how you like to pronounce it.

John, I used to get his mail as often as I got mine when we served in parliament. Actually, he has been a lawyer and a lawmaker for over 21 years in the parliament of Canada, elected six times, perhaps soon to be seven. John has served on numerous parliamentarian committees, but more than that, what I know of John is that he is tremendously committed to public policy making, to his community of Scarborough and Guildwood, Ontario. He has been an active parliamentarian, somebody who very much took part in some of the difficult and contentious debates that should happen in our legislatures.

And he has been a leading voice on very important issues around public policy. He is also in my estimation underestimated in terms of the contributions that he made to private members bills, which I can tell you are very rare birds.

It is difficult for an opposition party member, let alone even a member of the government, who doesn't sit in the cabinet to bring out legislation in the parliament of Canada. John has done something that I don't think any of the parliamentarians have accomplished in over 150 years.

He was able to move to legislation two bills, one while in opposition and another while a member of the government, one involving an important public policy matter that was little known, and that was flammable cigarettes. And there are hundreds of people who have died as a result of cigarettes that would ignite. And John brought in legislation to curtail that. He also worked in many compassionate areas, areas around social responsibility that Larry and others have referred to, social responsibility that brought about greater corporate action and accountability. And most recently, he has been working on a bill that touches very near and dear to my heart--my wife is a human rights activist--and it has to do with modern slavery, one of the real scourges that undermines our society, the modern slavery that goes on in our countries but around the world, is truly an area that requires much greater attention, much greater legislation, and much greater focus.

And while John and I were on opposite sides of the aisle, we crossed paths many times throughout our political career and even crossed swords on occasion, in parliament and in committee.

That there can never be any doubt is that John McKay's commitment and perseverance is for the betterment of his community, his country, and the world. He has traveled extensively on parliamentary committees to places like Africa and impoverished regions with a mind to try to help and to move in a positive direction.

And so I am very pleased and we should all be very thankful to be here to present on important issues around national security and defense that are very much impacted by the effects of climate change, and we will need people like John to continue to lead this effort in government.

So ladies and gentlemen, please welcome John McKay.

(Applause.)

MR. JOHN McKAY: Thank you, Peter, those are the nicest words you have said about me in year.

(Laughter.)

MR. JOHN McKAY: Peter's and my appreciation for each other sort of dipped when he was the minister of defense, and I was the liberal party's critic for defense. But we have since regained ground I have to say.

Peter, I was heartily pleased when you retired in 2015 because now I, too, don't have to send your mail back to you, and I am so sick of saying I am not Peter MacKay. I am not asked at any more, so thank you.

And it is good to see that everybody has got a life after politics. I see my friend Joe over here. It is just delightful to see him. Joe is one of the most thoughtful guys that the House of Commons has ever had in the history of the House of Commons.

And I saw John Godfrey here--oh, there he is, he is still here. John was our intellectual bread bank, and whenever you wanted to talk about climate change, you talked to change, and Martha--is Martha here as well?

There is Martha, and my good friend Jim, so all of whom seem to be extraordinarily well, and for those of us who are facing an election and maybe having that issue face us, it is encouraging and a comfort to see all of you here.

Now, it is a little intimidating to speak after experts. I will not make any profession that I am in any way, shape, or form an expert on climate change; did want to--and this is the commercial announcement from the government of Canada having just tabled a budget--you know how people say I am really pleased to be here. Thank you for the invitation, and they always say that in the beginning. You have no idea how pleased I am to be here.

We just came through a 36-hour voting marathon, and I had to say with my whip "I have to be in Cleveland on Friday. So that means I have to get out from this voting marathon, and because you are such a prestigious organization, he felt he had to release me.

But the national defense in the 2020 budget is committing $225 million to infrastructure projects, which is something I want to talk about over the next few minutes, to reduce the department's carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 2005 levels--2005 levels by 2030.

But before I talk about why I am here, I wanted to talk about the permanent joint board of defense, and I am told that there was a--okay. And I am told that clicker here--oh, that's your...

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