Page 51 - On the Trail of Elizabeth May
ISSUE : Issue 53
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1990/1/1
time against a herbicide that had been banned, that Monsanto wanted re-registered. So I had a really interesting, varied practice, plus I had this really interesting conference. And I liked Ottawa, and everything was going great. And then around late May, Tom MacMillan, who was Minister of the Environment at the time, called and asked me to come work for him. So I thought about that long and hard, because it wasn't anything I would have ever expected I could do, or would do--working in government, and being advisor to a minister at the federal level, who was a Tory. It struck me as being a very risky thing to do. But I decided to try it, because he promised me that I'd be in? volved in every decision that was made that affected the environment, that I'd be able to influence his decisions, that I'd be able to help environmental groups across the country. And the last thing I'd said to him that con? vinced me to take the job was when I said, "I feel I have to warn you that I'm the kind of person who would quit on principle." And he said, "That's exactly why I want you. Because people will know you're the kind of person who would resign on principle." So, with that all established, I went to work for him in the beginning of August of '86. I started out having the title of Special Advis? or, and then it changed and I was Senior Poli? cy Advisor when I resigned. And I resigned in June of '88. So I had almost two full years, basically run? ning the Minister's office, in a sense, and basically running the issues that affected the environment from within the Minister's office. (Can you give specific issues on which you feel you were able to make some contribu? tion..;.) There wasn't a day that went by that I didn't feel I'd done something impor? tant. Big and little. Every single day. The main things were Ellesmere National Park in the far North, Polar Bear Pass--a wildlife area in the north. It wasn't so much advis? ing. MacMillan had taken a public stand that he was going to save Ellesmere--he was going to put Ellesmere Island in a National Park. He'd taken a public stand that he was going to save South Moresby. The problem I discov? ered when I got there was that absolutely no? body below the Minister was working to make these things happen. Sometimes it wasn't very difficult. It's just that if I hadn't been there, there was no one else doing it. You know, it was just--calling the Northwest Territories government, trying to find out about when they'd be prepared to sign an agreement, getting everything arranged--in the case of Ellesmere. Just arranging the logis? tics of the trip--made sure that it happened. Because the previous year, they'd had a date, and they'd double-booked, and then no one had done anything since. And these things can slide for years. It's amazing. And South Moresby was--to me--the most impor? tant thing that happened while MacMillan was there. I think it's the most important thing that's happened in a long time. Both because of what was really achieved in protecting that wilderness area, and because of the symbolic importance of saying, "It's important to save this area because this area is precious." You know, it was just a really important statement for Canadians to be able to make. It was im? portant to get a prime minister involved in saying, "This area should be saved." And Breton Highlands National Park Why nat take some time this winter to relax, explore and enjoy some of Cape Breton's natural and cultural history? The Park Is open year 'round. During the winter months, we offer: - groomed and ungroomed ski trials, with warm-up cabins - free winter camping facilities at Ingonish and Chetlcamp - tobogganing, snowshoeing, and skating (bring your own gear) FOR INFORMATION: (902)285-2691 (INGONISH) (902) 224-3403 (CHETICAMP) Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Funeral Home (In Business Since 1908) Three Generations of Service J. Michael Curry - Mgr. 140 Main Street - Glace Bay Phone 849-7617 AMBULANCE SERVICE 849-2222
Cape Breton's Magazine