Canadian Manufacturing

McKenna’s anti plastics push on Twitter running afoul of local businesses

The Canadian Press

Cleantech Canada
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A series of social media gaffes put a damper on the environment minister's nationwide summer tour to tout the need to reduce plastic waste

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna. PHOTO: Canada 2020/Twitter

OTTAWA—Environment Minister Catherine McKenna’s campaign against plastic straws is fodder for her Twitter critics this week after she twice posted incorrectly that local Ottawa restaurants have banned them entirely.

McKenna, who is on a nationwide tour this summer to tout the need to reduce plastic waste, took to Twitter on Wednesday and Thursday claiming both the Feline Cafe and Bar Laurel in her Ottawa Centre riding had confirmed they were no longer providing straws.

Josee Cyr, owner of Feline Cafe says a member of McKenna’s staff contacted her to ask about the straws but McKenna’s tweet posted a few hours later claimed the cafe was “straw free” when Cyr says she told the staffer straws were available upon request.

McKenna deleted that tweet after Cyr pointed out the error on Twitter but this morning the minister made the exact same mistake in a tweet about Bar Laurel, a restaurant across the street from the Feline Cafe.


The restaurant clarified on Twitter it too has straws available upon request.

Cyr says she knows the minister meant well but she was disappointed the tweet posted didn’t provide the full information, saying some of her customers with disabilities need plastic straws to drink any beverage and inclusivity is very important to her.

A spokesman for McKenna is playing down the errors but says in future the minister will be more specific in her tweets and that she is just trying to showcase local businesses doing their part to reduce waste.

Eric Campbell said the minister is not advocating for a full ban on straws and fully accepts that some people with disabilities need to have access to straws.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau demurred earlier this year when British Prime Minister Theresa May asked other Commonwealth leaders to join her in banning plastic straws entirely. Canada is developing a national strategy on plastics that is expected to be unveiled later this year.

In June, five of the G7 nations signed a plastics charter at the leaders summit in Quebec, committing to reducing plastic waste with national targets, assistance for developing countries to create better waste management systems, and technology to replace plastic with less harmful alternatives.

Straws are a tiny component of the plastic waste problem clogging oceans and harming marine life, but they have become a symbol of the problem. A number of private companies and restaurants have announced in recent weeks plans to eliminate straws or replace them with paper versions.


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