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UPDATE: Flaherty fails the Great Lakes on World Water Day

The Council of Canadians is reviewing the Harper government’s 2011 federal budget at this moment.

Among our early observations is this excerpt from the 2011 federal budget, “The Great Lakes are fundamental to the well-being of millions of Canadians and Americans who live and work along their shores. Protecting water quality and ecosystem health in the Great Lakes is vital to ensuring that Canadians can continue to depend on this rich ecosystem for their drinking water, for recreation and for jobs. Building on the existing Great Lakes Action Plan and Action Plan for Clean Water, Budget 2011 announces an additional $5 million over two years to improve near shore water and ecosystem health, and better address the presence of phosphorous in the Great Lakes.”

Building on “the existing Great Lakes Action Plan and Action Plan for Clean Water”? While the Harper government also acknowledged in its 2010 federal budget that “millions of Canadians depend on the Great Lakes for their drinking water” and said that “cleaning up the Great Lakes is a key objective of our Government’s Action Plan for Clean Water”, that budget allocated a mere $8 million a year to Environment Canada to “implement its action plan to protect the Great Lakes”.

In the Alternative Federal Budget released prior to the Harper government’s budget, the Council of Canadians had called for $3.375 billion in new funding over five years to clean up polluted lakes and rivers, protect Canada’s waterways from invasive species, and to clean-up the Great Lakes. That’s closer to $675 million a year.

Council of Canadians water campaigner Emma Lui has stated, “The federal government needs to increase funding significantly in order to protect the Great Lakes as a commons, public trust and protected bioregion.”

The Council of Canadians released a new paper by Maude Barlow today titled, Our Great Lakes Commons: A People’s Plan to Protect the Great Lakes Forever. To read that report, please go to http://canadians.org/greatlakes.

Fuller commentary from the Council of Canadians on the 2011 federal budget with respect to water, climate, trade and health care will be coming soon.