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Saint John chapter calls on Trudeau to protect the Mispec River

The Council of Canadians Saint John chapter is calling for greater federal protection for every lake and every river in Canada.

To highlight that call, chapter activists Lynaya Astephen, Paula Tippett and Dave Siegner collected water in a jar from the Mispec River to send to their Member of Parliament. It’s part of our “Every Lake, Every River” campaign that says the protections that were cut by the Harper government must not only be fully and immediately restored by the Trudeau government, they must also be enhanced.

The 1.1 million barrel per day Energy East tar sands pipeline would cross the Mispec River about 3 kilometres from Latimore Lake, a drinking water source for Saint John. A spill there could devastate the water supply. In another location, the pipeline is on a hill just 3 kilometres outside the outer edge of the protected Loch Lomond watershed. A spill here could flow downhill towards the protected area, home to three Saint John drinking water lakes.

Dr. Tippett, a resident of Loch Lomond, has commented, “The proposed Energy East pipeline would border the designated protected Loch Lomond watershed outside the City of Saint John, as well as being close to the Latimore Lake city water reservoir, posing threats to the city’s drinking water supply in both cases.”

The Mispec River is not one of the 64 rivers listed in the Navigation Protection Act, nor is Latimore Lake one of the 100 lakes and oceans listed in the Act.

In 2012, the Conservatives under then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper gutted the former Navigable Waters Protection Act through omnibus bills. C-38 removed pipelines and power lines from provisions of the Navigable Waters Protect Act while C-45 significantly reduced the Act’s scope over waterways.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has commented, “The Harper government killed the Navigable Waters Protection Act, stripping protections from 99 per cent of lakes and rivers in Canada. Major pipelines and inter-provincial power lines now have the green light to cross over and under more than 31,000 lakes and 2.25 million rivers without federal scrutiny.”

During the October 2015 federal election, the Liberals criticized the Harper government’s “elimination of the Navigable Waters Protection Act” and promised to “review these changes, restore lost protections, and incorporate more modern safeguards”.

Now Transport minister Marc Garneau says, “Some of the changes that were made we may end up saying they’re reasonable, but some of them we definitely will change.” This equivocation may be because, as The Globe and Mail reports, “The Liberal government is feeling pressure from industry [including Big Oil] over a campaign pledge to restore regulations surrounding project permits and environmental assessments.”

The Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities is accepting written comments on the Navigation Protection Act until November 30.

Five things you can do to protect water:

1- To take part in our “SOS: Send a message in a bottle to your Member of Parliament!” campaign, click here.

2- To send a letter to the Standing Committee reviewing the Navigation Protection Act, click here.

3- To sign our Every Lake, Every River petition, click here.

4- To read Council of Canadians water campaigner Emma Lui’s Every Lake, Every River: Restoring the Navigable Waters Protection Act report, click here.

5- To find out about how to participate in your local chapter’s actions to protect water and about their work on other campaigns, click here.