John Godfrey

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This article is about the Canadian politician. For other people named John Godfrey, see John Godfrey (disambiguation)

The Honourable John Ferguson Godfrey, P.C., MP (born December 12 1949) is a Canadian politician.

Early career

Prior to entering politics he was an economist, historian and journalist. From 1987 to 1991 he was editor of the Financial Post.

Godfrey was president of the University of King's College in Halifax from 1977-87, overseeing a period of strong growth at the small liberal arts school.

Politics

He was first elected to the Canadian House of Commons as the Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) for the Toronto area riding of Don Valley West in the 1993 election, and has been re-elected in each subsequent vote.

In 1996, he and fellow Liberal MP Peter Milliken introduced the Godfrey-Milliken Bill a parody of the American Helms-Burton Act. His career did not suffer, however, probably due to his relationship to Finance Minister Paul Martin. From 1996 to 2004, Godfrey served as a Parliamentary Secretary under Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

Minister of State for Infrastructure and Communities

Martin succeeded Chretien as Liberal leader and prime minister. Following the subsequent 2004 election, Godfrey, along with other key Martin allies, was appointed to the Cabinet in the role of Minister of State for Infrastructure and Communities. In this role, he has been primarily responsible for overseeing the "New Deal for Cities", Federation of Canadian Municipalities relationship, and other initiatives in Canadian federal-municipal relations. This role is considered a keystone of Martin's industrial strategy.

According to Auditor General of Canada Sheila Fraser, Canada lags far behind the US and UK in municipal performance audits for government, in applying its own statements to procurement, and in direct federal standards applying to municipal operations. Godfrey is tasked with dealing with these substantial problems, a role complicated by the fact that, constitutionally, provinces in Canada have formal jurisdiction over cities and municipalities, and have blocked most necessary changes in funding and operations. This is markedly different than in the US where the General Accounting Office has applied specific accounting standards, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency has required specific upgrades to city emergency responses. As in major American cities, federal support of a municipal emergency response is a problem of particular concern in Godfrey's home city of Toronto, following the SARS outbreak, the August 2003 blackout and smog and snow crises. Toronto is also considered to be the primary target for any asymmetric warfare/terrorist attack on Canada.

As an additional complexity, Canadian cities faced with gridlock and smog problems due to commuting and urban sprawl, now face Kyoto Accord requirements to cut greenhouse gas output.

To deal with these problems, on a national level, Godfrey has been directly involved in negotiations regarding climate change auditing and other municipal performance indicators that would apply at least to cities in Canada, and eventually to all municipalities.

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