Government of Canada must deal with the Devil

Posted By: Friends of the Earth Canada Comments Off on Government of Canada must deal with the Devil

For immediate release
June 12, 2008

Government of Canada must deal with the Devil

Friends of the Earth Canada and the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce petition Canadian Auditor General for answers on Devils Lake Outlet, before permit to pollute is re-issued

(Ottawa / Winnipeg) The Devil’s in the details — especially when enforcing an environmental safeguard agreement established three years ago over the controversial Devils Lake Outlet in North Dakota. One year ago, the Federal House of Commons convened an emergency debate to discuss the Outlet’s operations. With no indicators of progress in sight Friends of the Earth Canada and the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce have joined to petition the Auditor General of Canada to ensure Canadian politicians and officials protect Canadian waters against the deleterious impacts associated with the Devils Lake Outlet.

The Petition submitted earlier today calls for public disclosure by Canada’s Ministers of the Environment and Foreign Affairs, including the actions taken by both the Canadian Ambassador to the United States and the Consul General, on matters agreed to by Canada and the USA in the August 2005 Multi-layered Safeguard Agreement.

“If Canada has not received assurances on execution of the safeguard terms,” says Beatrice Olivastri, CEO of Friends of the Earth Canada, “then Canada must insist the outlet be closed down permanently. Allowing this boondoggle to continue sets an unacceptable precedent for trans-boundary water issues to come.”

Under the 2005 Agreement, Canada and the United States were expected to work together on the construction of an advanced filtration/disinfection system, an early detection and monitoring system for water quality and aquatic nuisance species and take immediate measures to prevent the spread of any aquatic nuisance species that pose significant risk to the Basin should any be identified. The Red River and Lake Winnipeg, both downstream from the Devils Lake Outlet, are important natural, recreational and economic resources for the entire region.

The Canadian petition arrives just prior to the reissuance of a permit to continue operating the Devils Lake outlet with only a rudimentary gravel filter in place. The permit will allow unaltered operation of the outlet until 2013.

“Economically and environmentally the stakes are huge,” says Graham Starmer, President of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce. “We need the political will to prevent the ill.”

The AG Petition process was established by Parliament to ensure Canadians receive timely answers from federal ministers on specific environmental and sustainable development issues that involve federal jurisdiction. Friends of the Earth and the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce believe that Canadians have the right to such answers on the enforcement of the 2005 Environmental Safeguard Agreement on the Devils Lake Outlet.

Contact information for media:

Beatrice Olivastri, Friends of the Earth Canada, (613) 241-0085 ext. 26, (613) 724-8690 (cellular)

Graham Starmer, Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, (204) 948-0107, (204) 781-0492 (cellular)

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