Former Nova Scotia MP takes top job at WWF-Canada
Megan Leslie says she's 'excited' to take over as CEO of World Wildlife Fund Canada
Two years after losing her seat in the federal election, former Nova Scotia MP Megan Leslie is taking a job as the head of the Canadian chapter of an international conservation organization.
Leslie — the New Democrat MP for Halifax from 2008 to 2015 — said she is "pretty excited" to become the president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund Canada, an organization she's worked for since the end of her political career.
"All I've ever wanted to do is work on issues of justice," Leslie said, whether it be social, economic or environmental. "It's why I went to law school … it's why I ran federally."
Leslie, who was the NDP's environment critic for four years, said she's been "pretty steeped" in environmental issues during the course of her career.
She added that WWF is about more than just the environment. People do better when "nature is healthy" and WWF is committed to making sure that both people and the planet "thrive," she said.
A WWF-Canada report released last month found 451 of 903 mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and fish species across the country declined in number between 1970 and 2014. The report said endangered species continue to disappear despite federal laws aimed at protecting them.
Asked about the endangered North Atlantic right whale, of which 16 have died off the East Coast of Canada and the U.S. this summer, Leslie said there's a need for marine protection areas to provide "safe spaces for wildlife where they'll have access to food, where there'll be some quiet waters, where they can raise their young."
Examinations show most of the whales died after being hit by ships or getting tangled in fishing gear and 12 of those deaths occurred in Canada's Gulf of St. Lawrence.
There are fewer than 450 right whales left in the world and scientists fear if extraordinary measures aren't taken to stop the slaughter, they face certain extinction within 20 years.
How she got the job
Leslie said she was still in her office on Parliament Hill, "surrounded by boxes, packing up my parliamentary life," when former Toronto mayor and then-WWF-Canada CEO David Miller first called to offer her a job with the conservation organization.
Leslie, who had lost her seat to Liberal Andy Fillmore just a few days earlier, said she started by taking a short-term contract with the charity. "And the rest, as they say, is history."
Originally from Kirkland Lake, Ont., Leslie will be relocating from Halifax to Toronto for the new job.
Leslie said her connections on the Hill have not been particularly helpful in her work with WWF-Canada, because she's under a lobbying ban. But it certainly helps to understand how the system works, she said.
Although Leslie didn't say whether she has closed the door on political life for good, she did say that "politics is not on my immediate horizon."
With files from CBC's Information Morning and The Canadian Press