In our new print issue - on newsstands now - we spoke to the minister of the environment about the importance of cycling to combat climate change.
Canada's Minister of the Environment Rides a Bike
Biking to work is one of the most enjoyable ways people can act locally to be mindful of the environment, she says.
By Tammy Thorne
Photos courtesy of Catherine McKenna's office.
Canada’s minister of the environment and climate change, Catherine McKenna, rides a bike to work. The new Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre is a long-time local cycling advocate who has fought for enhancements to Ottawa’s cycling network.
McKenna can do even more to support cycling in cities now that she’s pedalling up the Hill. A proud cyclist, the minister started tweeting photos of herself riding to work shortly after being sworn in as an MP. “The last time I tweeted a picture of myself riding to work, it just happened to be the coldest day of the year, – 40 with the wind chill...” She admits it wasn’t the most pleasant commute she’s ever had (yet she still has a huge smile on her face in the photo.)
The newly-minted minister rides to work, in part, because she can get to her office on Parliament Hill in 12 minutes. “I feel very fortunate to live in a city where I can bike to work safely and quickly. Biking or walking to work makes me feel good mentally and physically, and by leaving the car at home I’m also reducing the amount of carbon I put into the air,” says McKenna. “I think it’s important to set an example of ways Canadians can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.” She notes the bike parking on Parliament Hill, which is widely used by MPs and others, could be a little bit closer to the buildings. “It would be neat to see bike parking right in front of the Parliament building,” McKenna adds. “I bet it would encourage more people to bike to work.”
McKenna says that bikes are definitely part of the solution in fighting climate change. “Every day I hear from Canadians who want to do their part to fight climate change and leaving the car at home and biking to work is one of the ways people can act locally to be mindful of the environment – and one of the most enjoyable,” she says.
Going for a family bike ride can be a great opportunity for parents to teach kids about climate change and how they can be part of the solution too. “After all,” says the mother of three, “This is about finding a solution now for the sake of our children.”
McKenna’s family lives close to a network of multi-use paths that run along the Rideau Canal, the Rideau River and the Ottawa River. She says these are fantastic resources for Ottawa cyclists, both for commuting and for a fun day out in the fresh air. “Good bike infrastructure is such an important part of what makes our cities great places to live.”
The politician’s positivity doesn’t come only from her great bike rides, it’s also part ofher party’s beliefs. After winning the election in 2015, Prime Minister elect Justin Trudeau evoked ‘Sunny Ways’ as a philosophy moving forward.
McKenna says that her party chose to run a positive campaign, and that resonated with Canadians.
The human rights and social justice lawyer says the Liberal party wants to foster a climate of openness, transparency, and civility in Parliament, with the public service, and in all its interactions with Canadians.
“Another change you’ll notice if you’re walking through the halls of Parliament or watching question period is lots more women,” McKenna says proudly, “By nominating 50 per cent of women in cabinet, Prime Minister Trudeau is leading by example, and I hope to see more women leaders.”
Beyond bikes, minister McKenna is working hard to implement carbon pricing across the country and ensure Canada reduces greenhouse gas emissions. In April, Prime Minister Trudeau signed the United Nation’s Paris Agreement, which contains a pledge to lower emissions by 30 per cent by 2030.
Now, the government needs a plan to reach that target.
“Carbon pricing is widely acknowledged to be a crucial tool to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Many leading Canadian and international companies – including energy giants – already have internal carbon pricing plans in place,” says McKenna. “The need to include carbon pricing to addressing climate change is accepted right across the country,” she says. “Carbon pricing will be an important tool to fight climate change, along with investments in green infrastructure and innovation to grow the Canadian economy.” We hope that green infrastructure includes some bike lanes.
issue 13 is available for FREE
at our sponsor bike shops.
Urbane Cyclist, Bikes on Wheels, Cycle Couture, Sweet Pete's, Hoopdriver, Batemans, Velofix, and Steamwhistle all carry complimentary copies of dandyhorse for customers. La Carrera Cycles, Friends of the Greenbelt and Suzuki Foundation also have limited supplies of the magazine. Urbane Cyclist has most of our back issues too - just ask staff!
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