Local resident requests local MP, MPP, bring concerns forward about Ontario’s lack of representation on IJC water compact

SPRING BAY – Spring Bay resident Mike Wilton feels not only that Ontario and Quebec should be part of the Great Lakes Compact, and that future International Joint Commission (IJC) meeting agendas should include looking at water quantity and flow, not just water quality; he is requesting Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes and Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha to get involved in bringing these concerns forward. And, he said that several Great Lakes documents need to be updated.

“I’m sending a letter to our MP and MPP,” Mr. Wilton told the Recorder last week. “I want to see if Carol (Hughes) and Mike (Mantha) can get something going on all of this. And I really feel it is time for a review of the Great Lakes documents, the Great Lakes Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909, the Great Lakes Water Quality Report 1972, Great Lakes Charter 1985, the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainability Water Resources Agreement of 2005, and the Great Lakes Water Compact of 2007. There should be a review on how relevant they are and whether they should be updated.”

“And, for instance, the Compact agreement mentions investigations into diversions of water out of the Great Lakes, but I don’t think it mentions diversions into the Great Lakes,” said Mr. Wilton. “They may not be as concerned about diverting water from Hudson Bay into the Great Lakes.”

“I can see in the future more people and areas are going to need and want fresh water and Canada will be a target for this. And Prime Minister Trudeau seems to decide to give away our water, like everything else. That’s the feeling I get, if the Americans want anything we, Canada, have, Canada is willing to give it to them.”

“Canada is supposed to be part of and represented on the Great Lakes Compact agreement. It mentions governors in the US but I can’t find where it says Canada is represented,” continued Mr. Wilton. “So, for example, the governor of Wisconsin made the decision recently to divert water to Waukesha for an Asian company to come in and set up their business there and use this water.”

Mr. Wilton will be replying to a call from the IJC for public comments about Great Lakes water quality by November 30 and wants water quantity and flow, not just water quality, to be heard.

As was reported previously from an IJC meeting in Collingwood held in August, Mr. Wilton explained to the Recorder, “I had brought up two points that I would like to reinforce here. 1: The apparent singular concern of the IJC presently appears to be solely that of water quality, whereas there is no forum regarding water quantity or flow. Either there should be a separate forum for water quantity, especially with regard to diversions, or a block of time should be dedicated to quantity (flow) at the quality forums, which could then be more correctly referred to as ‘Great Lakes Quality and Quantity Public Meetings.’”

Secondly, Mr. Wilton explained, “The Great Lakes Compact, (not to be confused with The Great Lakes Charter) appears to presently be made up solely of US governors bordering the Great Lakes—although I am attempting to verify this. While some literature indicates that Ontario and Quebec were part of the original agreement, there is no indication of their participation in the ratification of that document; such as the recent Waukesha Diversion from Lake Michigan to supply water to an ‘offshore company’ appears to have only been signed by the governor of Wisconsin. If this unfortunate situation indeed exists, it should be corrected since all of that diversionary waters will ultimately be sources from the Hudson Bay watershed in Ontario, Canada.”

Mr. Wilton noted as well that the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council (Compact Council) will be meeting again on Wednesday, December 11 via webinar conference call. The meeting is open to the public and he will be bringing forward his concerns at this meeting.