Border waters to get more protection
Last Thursday the House of Commons unanimously passed a bill to prevent the bulk export of Canada’s boundary and transboundary waters. Bill C-383, An Act to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act and the International River Improvements Act, passed third reading and is now on its way to the Senate.
“For over a decade the Gordon Foundation has sought to protect Canada’s fresh water supply. We are pleased to see such support for this Bill and the inclusion of a strong prohibition on bulk water exports,” says Thomas Axworthy, president and CEO of the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation.
Under the direction of Adèle Hurley, in 2008 the Program On Water Issues (POWI) at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, created “A Model Act for Preserving Canada’s Waters,” which presented a blueprint for preventing the bulk export of fresh water. Ms. Hurley and her colleague J. Owen Saunders, members of the Canadian Water Issues Council, a project of POWI, provided insight to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development on October 25, 2012, when Bill C-383 was in review.
“POWI has been a real leader in bringing together scientists, lawyers and environmentalists to utilize their expertise for the important goal of preventing bulk water exports,” says Mr. Axworthy. “POWI has been the intellectual leader in this domain and for that reason we are proud of our long term support of this institution.”
The Gordon Foundation would also like to congratulate Larry Miller, the Member of Parliament for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, who advanced this Private Member’s Bill, and has worked so hard to see it supported with such resounding enthusiasm by his colleagues in Parliament.
In its current iteration, the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act contains protections for boundary waters—those that straddle the border—but not transboundary waters—those that flow across the boundary. The amendments outlined in Bill C-383 extend the same protections to transboundary waters as those currently in place for straddling water bodies such as the Great Lakes.
Including protections for transboundary waters within federal legislation greatly strengthens the protection of fresh water across the country. With Bill C-383 in place Canada’s fresh water resources will be considerably better protected from bulk exports.
The Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation is dedicated to the development of sound and innovative public policies in two key areas: protecting Canada’s fresh water supply and strengthening Arctic voices in public dialogue. The Foundation aims to elevate public dialogue, inform decision makers and have a positive impact on policy. For over a decade the Gordon Foundation has supported the development of a comprehensive legal, regulatory and citizen action framework for the purpose of protecting the quality and quantity of fresh water resources for future generations of Canadians. The Foundation was established in 1965 by former finance minister and chartered accountant Walter Gordon, his wife Elizabeth (née Counsell), and his brother Duncan, also a chartered accountant.