Level of protection in draft Great
Lakes Charter Annex agreements not high enough
Changes Needed Before Ontario Will Sign
Published November 15th, 2004
TORONTO, Nov. 15 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government will
not sign the
current drafts of the Great Lakes Charter Annex agreements
unless changes to enhance the level of protection for
the waters of the Great Lakes Basin are made, Natural
Resources Minister David Ramsay announced today.
"We have listened to feedback from stakeholders,
First Nations and the general public," said Ramsay.
"Ontario remains committed to its provincial law
that bans diversions. For the purposes of the Annex agreements,
Ontarians, and the McGuinty government, clearly want a
'no diversions' agreement, or the position of 'no net
loss' as proposed by the International Joint Commission.
In addition, we regard conservation measures as significant
for the protection of Great Lakes waters. Ontario is not
prepared to ratify the agreement in its
In 1998, the Harris government issued a permit to an
Ontario company for the export of up to 600 million litres
of water a year from Lake Superior for sale in Asian markets.
Public outrage on both sides of the border led to the
signing of the Great Lakes Charter Annex in 2001. Released
for public comment in July 2004, the current agreements
carry out commitments made in the Charter Annex. The agreements
would strengthen the regulation of water uses in many
states. However, the agreements are not as strong as Ontario's
laws, which prohibit water transfers out of the province's
three major water basins.
The Ontario government will share the feedback from its
90-day public consultation at a meeting with Quebec and
the Great Lakes states today. Ramsay will also be consulting
with his federal colleagues and Ontario's negotiating
partners from Quebec. "We will be considering our
position carefully before resuming negotiations in the
new year," said Ramsay.
"We will continue to seek input on the Charter Annex
agreements from stakeholders and First Nations before
we consider ratifying any agreement."
Ramsay also addressed the question of who should lead
negotiations on the Charter Annex agreements. He pointed
out that if the federal government were to direct the
negotiations, it would have to deal directly with the
U.S. federal government, which would have to represent
the interests of water users across the continental United
States, not just the Great Lakes states.
"We believe the U.S. Great Lakes states share with
us many common interests on the use and protection of
this valued resource," said Ramsay. "We are
concerned that other U.S. states may have an interest
in accessing Great Lakes waters that will conflict with
our desire to prevent diversions from the basin."
"This is a complex issue," said Ramsay. "Above
all, the Ontario government is seeking the strongest possible
protections for the waters of the Great Lakes Basin to
ensure future generations can enjoy the Great Lakes."