Climate action on a platter

When Premier Gordon Campbell announced the members of his climate action team last month, he said "they've been people who have been involved in these activities - sustainability, the science of it and the applications of it - for a number of years now." Which had some environmentalists wondering how British Columbia Restaurant and Foodservice Association president and chief executive officer Ian Tostenson made it onto that team - which met for the first time today. After all, according to a biography distributed by the government, Mr. Tostenson didn't seem to have any involvement with sustainability activities.

So Public Eye phoned Mr. Tostenson up to find out what he would be contributing to the team. In an interview, he explained most of his experience with sustainability comes from the four months he spent organizing Al Gore's visit to Vancouver this past September.

"Bringing (the former American vice-president) was no small feat," he explained. "It was a massive undertaking. Very hard guy to get. And where probably 15 organizations and companies dropped out of the race, including a very large television station in Vancouver - they just said it's too complicated - (the restaurant association) pursued it. And we pursued it for one reason: we recognized the issue has to be dealt with. So when you say background in sustainability - am I scientist from UBC, no. Do we need anymore scientists from UBC. We've got lots there. We've got Nobel Peace Prize guys."

Instead, Mr. Tostenson says "I'm going to be the practical catalyst of making sure we get change...This is an action team. And we have to have a balance of science and a balance of application because that's critically important. If we get too scientific and we don't translate that into practical application, we're not going to get to our goals."

And as the former president and chief executive officer of winemaker Cascadia Brands Inc. and chair of the British Columbia Wine Institute, he added he has "a very strong track record in the community of getting things done...It didn't matter how complex the issue was, I'm uniquely positioned to bring people together and get consensus and move on and accomplish things...And I think the premier, even when he was in opposition, saw those things happen - because we had a lot of interface with this government when they were in opposition." So that explains that.

1 Comment

I once road up an elevator with Robert Jarvik who was credited with the first successful artifical heart implant. I leveraged that 15 floor experience to the point where I am now the head of cardiac medicine at Johns Hopkins University. Considering I have no medical training whatsoever I find Mr. Tostenson's Al Gore "party coordination" story quite reasonable.

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