Ottawa – The Council of Canadians commends the Ontario Liberal government’s first step towards Great Lakes protection, but urges bigger and faster steps to protect the lakes. The Council made a submission on the proposed Great Lakes Protection Act and Great Lakes Strategy today, stating that the two documents fail to address the core causes threatening the lakes.
The proposed Act and Strategy also fall short of the Council’s earlier requests to recognize the human right to water, and to protect a community’s right to refuse projects that threaten the lakes such as fracking, nuclear waste shipments and bottled water withdrawals.
“The Great Lakes belong to all of us, and we have a collective responsibility to protect them,” said Emma Lui, water campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “This legislation should empower communities to say no to potentially harmful projects.”
The Council is also concerned about the impacts that the recent budget will have on Great Lakes protection and public input.
The submission states: “The Budget Measures Act weakens a number of environmental laws affecting the Great Lakes and contradicts the stated purpose of the Act of involving communities in Great Lakes protection.”
The Council is urging the government to take real action by implementing the following changes that would protect the lakes as a commons and public trust to be shared, protected and managed by those living around them:
- A process for citizens and communities living on the Great Lakes basin to sue corporations and governments knowingly polluting their local water sources for violation of their human right to clean water
- A moratorium on all oil and gas exploration in or near the lakes and clear restrictions on all mineral exploration and extraction to ensure no damage to the basin and its waters
- A ban on all nuclear shipments on the Great Lakes
- A ban on all bunker oil in ships travelling the Great Lakes
- A ban on additional tar sands pipelines carrying bitumen to the Great Lakes and the refining of it by industry near the basin;
- A moratorium on all ocean-going vessel access to the Great Lakes until a fool-proof plan is put in place to stop the influx of invasive species into the Basin
The submission on the Great Lakes Protection Act and Strategy is available here.