Natalie Jameson, a former recruiter in the oil and gas sector, has been tasked with ensuring P.E.I. meets its climate change targets.
On Friday, in a swearing-in ceremony at Government House, Premier Dennis King announced that the Charlottetown-Hillsborough Park MLA will be the new minister of environment, water and climate change. Jameson will also be the minister responsible for the status of women and the minister responsible for Charlottetown.
Jameson became the newest member of the Progressive Conservative caucus after winning the deferred election in Charlottetown-Hillsborough Park last July.
Jameson is also the only member of the PC cabinet to represent a district in Charlottetown.
In remarks during the swearing-in ceremony, King called Jameson’s portfolio “critically important".
"Natalie is, as everybody knows, a passionate and proud Islander and a wonderful addition to this team," King said.
"Minister Jameson will bring strong leadership to her new portfolio.”
The environment, water and climate change ministry had been previously held by Brad Trivers. Trivers will remain minister of education and lifelong learning.
Prior to entering politics, Jameson had worked as a marketing representative and recruiter with Obsidian Energy Ltd., an oil and gas company based in Calgary. Obsidian, formerly known as Penn West Ltd., is the largest land holder of the Cardium shale structure in Alberta.
In an interview with media afterwards, Jameson touted her experience and perspective as a mother of a young family.
"I think I bring some perspectives, I have small children, I have a renewed energy,” Jameson said.
“I certainly feel that I'm going to add another voice to the table in terms of representing women and, of course, the residents of Charlottetown."
When asked how Islanders may perceive her role in the oil and gas sector, Jameson said her experience would be an asset.
"I would think that there shouldn't be concern,” Jameson said.
“I think we all bring a variety of experience and expertise to anything that we do. That, to me, was 10 years of extremely professional experience where I gained a lot of skills and expertise.”
Jameson said she looked forward to being briefed on environmental files from her deputy minister, Brad Colwill, and by department staff.
King said he felt it was important for Trivers to focus on priorities in education and lifelong learning portfolio.
He said Jameson had raised several environmental issues as part of her work as an MLA representing Charlottetown-Hillsborough Park. He also said her background with the oil and gas industry gave her a “unique look at many, many things".
"We really want to get a renewed focus on making sure that the environment and the economy are merged and in lockstep,” King said.
“I think that for too long, too many governments have looked at those as separate entities. What I really want Natalie and her department to focus on is reaching the goals of reducing carbon."
King also said he hoped Jameson could help find “economic opportunities wrapped up inside of a changing environment".
Last summer, the province set a new legislated target of a reduction of carbon emissions from 1.8 megatonnes to 1.2 megatonnes per year by 2030, 40 per cent below the 2005 baseline.
A progress update released by the province in October said P.E.I., with its current policies, is projected to be 320 kilotonnes short of its 2030 climate change target.