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NRTEE’s David McLaughlin (ABOVE, at right) introduces 11 panellists of a round-table discussion on climate change. The panel in Ottawa was moderated by former CBC broadcaster Don Newman (ABOVE, centre). (Photo: Devin Jeffrey)

Climate talks

3M Environmental Innovation Award
Governor General David Johnston chats with Robert Page (at left) and David McLaughlin of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE). (Photo: David Barbour)
In his first official public appearance as Canada’s new Governor General, David Johnston spoke at the launch of a joint initiative on climate change by The Royal Canadian Geographical Society and the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) on October 5 at the Canadian Museum of Nature, in Ottawa. It was a homecoming of sorts for Johnston, who is the Society’s patron and was the founding chair of the NRTEE in 1988.

“It is a pleasure to return to whence I came,” said Johnston, who noted that he was touched that the fruit of this collaboration — including special issues of Canadian Geographic and Géographica and a poster map illustrating the expected impacts of climate change on Canada — would be sent to 12,000 Canadian schools. “We will need the input of the next generation, and we will need more of the partnerships we’ve seen today.”

The Governor General took things in stride when a fire alarm forced the evacuation of the museum just as he and federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice were about to address the crowd of 175. “It’s the first time I’ve managed to empty the room before speaking,” Johnston joked.

3M Environmental Innovation Award
Environment Minister Jim Prentice spoke at the launch of the joint project by the Society and the NRTEE, which included the publication of a special issue of Canadian Geographic. (Photo: David Barbour)
The reception followed the first of six cross-country round-table discussions with Canadian experts on the repercussions of and potential solutions to climate change. Panels were also held in Halifax, Montréal, Toronto, Vancouver and Saskatoon throughout October.

In Ottawa, the 11 panel members represented a wide range of fields, including government, academia, banking, engineering and wildlife conservation. Elisapee Sheutiapik, the mayor of Iqaluit, Nunavut’s capital, offered a first-hand perspective on how climate change is affecting northerners. Besides the obvious effects on infrastructure and buildings, she commented, it’s important to consider the human dimension.

“Search and rescue is all about rescue these days in the North,” she said. “We don’t have a weather station — our weather comes from Winnipeg — which doesn’t help when Inuit can’t predict weather from clues in nature anymore.”

— Monique Roy-Sole

ABOVE, left to right: NRTEE president and CEO David McLaughlin, Canadian Geographic president and publisher André Préfontaine, NRTEE chair Robert Page, Governor General David Johnston, Gisèle Jacob, outgoing president of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and her successor, John Geiger. (Photo: David Barbour)

Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk lends his support to the joint initiative via video. (Photo: David Barbour)
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