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Great Lakes Article:

Federal Government Promotes Strong Protection for Water in the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Basin
Press Release, Government of Canada
Published January 11th, 2005

Ottawa, January 11, 2005 -- The Government of Canada has made a submission to the Council of Great Lakes Governors, which includes Ontario and Quebec, encouraging the Great Lakes states and provinces to provide the same level of protection of water in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence basin as that already provided by Canada, Ontario and Quebec. The submission is in response to the proposed Great Lakes Charter Annex implementing agreements currently being negotiated by the Great Lakes states and provinces. Canadian federal law prohibits out-of-basin transfers of boundary waters in bulk, a ban the Government of Canada is committed to keeping in place.

“The Government of Canada is committed to protect the integrity of the Great Lakes Basin and is therefore determined to keep the ban in place. We welcome the efforts of the states and provinces to develop improved processes for managing the waters of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. However, after reviewing the draft agreements, consulting with our provincial partners and listening to the concerns of Canadians, we believe that the proposed agreements do not provide a sufficient degree of protection to these critically important waters and require strengthening,” said Canada’s Environment Minister Stéphane Dion.

The draft implementing agreements propose specific administrative procedures pertaining to managing proposals for new and increased diversions, withdrawals and consumptive uses of water from the Great Lakes. The federal government made its submission after analyzing the draft agreements.

“Overall, the Government of Canada's submission confirms that obligations under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 and Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) are unaffected by the proposed agreements”, said Pierre Pettigrew, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. “It also underlines the ongoing, central importance of the International Joint Commission the binational organization responsible for preventing and resolving disputes primarily concerning water quantity and quality along the Canada US boundary.”

The submission makes clear the need for an ecosystem perspective to inform the management of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence basin and for decisions to be based on sound science, sustainable management, a precautionary approach and ongoing public involvement. It also recognizes that the proposed agreements include positive elements that would improve management of water within the basin, such as requiring better data on existing and new withdrawals and consumptive uses of water.

“In the context of climate change, prudent action in the face of scientific uncertainty must inform our decisions about this uniquely important resource” said Minister Dion in outlining a precautionary approach to managing freshwater.

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For more information, please contact :

Sebastien Bois
Media Relations
Environment Canada
(819) 994-4016

Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs Canada
(613) 995-1874

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