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Leaked: National Roundtable on the Environment and Economy’s Final Farewell Report

It is being reported today that Canada's Minister of the Environment, Peter Kent, would not allow the public posting of a final report by the now-defunct National Roundtable on Energy and Environment (NRTEE), a 25-year old government funded project that brought together Canada's brightest minds to work on the convergence of environmental sustainability and economic prosperity. 

Minister Kent's order also prevents NRTEE materials from being transferred to a University of Ottawa think-tank, Sustainable Prosperity, where they will be made publicly available.

According to press reports, in response to a letter of request to post the final report from the acting NRTEE chair, Minister Kent wrote:

"…the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) will upload no further content to its external website, as of the date on which this direction is signed."

DeSmog Canada has been sent a copy of the final report which is available in its entirety here: Reflections of Past Leaders of the NRTEE.

Minister Kent will also not allow 25-years worth of materials and research compiled by the NRTEE to remain publicly available on its website, raising fears amongst public stakeholders that the government may attempt to bury the documents. 

The final report is a fitting send-off for an organization with a history of 25 years, and contains reflections from past members on how valuable the NRTEE was to public dialogue on energy, environment and economic issues.

Former NRTEE chair and Canada's current Governor General, his Right Honourable David Johnston writes:

"Another of the real achievements of the Round Table was to establish a broad network of interested parties from senior levels of government, the environmental sector, the business community, and academia. It was unique to have Cabinet Ministers in the same room as people from other sectors on a regular basis."

Former NRTEE Robert (Bob) Page addresses the issue of the strained relationship between the group and the current Conservative government, writing:

"It was both a privileged advisor to governments and a conscience proposing new ways as constructive criticism of the status quo. Some Conservative officials were uncomfortable that the government was financing criticism when they wanted cheerleaders. For me this issue emerged in the careful wording required in every letter of transmittal and in the briefing of senior officials. We got a few bombs thrown our way when the Minister was suddenly confronted by the media. However, there was no reason for having an NRTEE unless it was exploring new ground for government consideration."

Another former chair, Harvey Mead writes:

"The most important loss following upon the dissolution of the Round Table is not, in fact, that of an important advisor to the highest levels of government — the NRTEE was never that — but the loss of the honest broker known and respected throughout Canada by organizations and individuals deeply involved in the challenges associated with the country’s development."
 
On the importance of the NRTEE today, former president David McLaughlin probably puts it best in his reflection that,
 
"Nothing is forever and no organization is essential. But if there was ever a time for Canada to consider how to bring the environment and the economy together, it is now."
 
The NRTEE was the last remaining external advisory body to the government of Canada on the issues of climate change, sustainability and economic policy. It was canceled in last year's controversial budget for a savings of $5 million. Minister Kent said the information provided by NRTEE could be sourced from the internet and other organizations in the future. 
 
Liberal MP David McGuinty, president of the body from 1996-2004, told Postmedia's Mike De Souza the government is censoring information that shows current energy and environment policies are misguided.
 
“Minister Kent’s involvement at this level of detail is automatically a signal for me that they are trying to control information,” said McGuinty. “They really want to extinguish even the name of the organization. It’s Orwellian … It’s like burning books, burning the names, (or pretending) it never happened. And that’s just ridiculous.”

Members of the NRTEE expressed their disappointment with the Minister's announcement in this final email address:

Hey there keener,
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Hey there keener,
Thanks for being an avid reader of our in-depth journalism, which is read by millions and made possible thanks to more than 4,200 readers just like you.

The Narwhal's growing team is hitting the ground running in 2022 to tell stories about the natural world that go beyond doom-and-gloom headlines — and we need your support.

Our model of independent, non-profit journalism means we can pour resources into doing the kind of environmental reporting you won’t find anywhere else in Canada, from investigations that hold elected officials accountable to deep dives showcasing the real people enacting real climate solutions.

There’s no advertising or paywall on our website (we believe our stories should be free for all to read), which means we count on our readers to give whatever they can afford each month to keep The Narwhal’s lights on.

The amazing thing? Our faith is being rewarded. We hired seven new staff over the past year and won a boatload of awards for our features, our photography and our investigative reporting.

With your help, we’ll be able to do so much more in 2022. If you believe in the power of independent journalism, join our pod by becoming a Narwhal today. (P.S. Did you know we’re able to issue charitable tax receipts?)

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