Volume #18 - 849.|
RELATIONS AVEC LES ÉTATS UNIS
LES NIVEAUX D'EAU DES GRANDS LACS : BARRAGE GUT
Extrait des conclusions du Cabinet|
le 28 mars 1952|
. . .
PROPOSED REFERENCE TO INTERNATIONAL JOINT COMMISSION
27. The Secretary of State for External Affairs reported that recent high levels in the Great Lakes had given rise to complaints of damage, particularly on the shores of Lake Ontario. The main cause was heavy precipitation in the Great Lakes basin. The levels in the lakes had also been slightly increased by the Long Lac and Ogoki diversions and, in Lake Ontario, by the Gut Dam built nearly fifty years ago by Canada. This dam normally raised the level of Lake Ontario 5½ inches but, when the water was high, as much as 7¾ inches.
Those complaining in the United States had directed their attention to the Gut Dam and to the conditions under which the United States had consented to its construction. These were that, if the dam materially affected the level of the lake or caused injury to U.S. interests, Canada would undertake necessary alterations and regulatory works and that, if it caused damage to U.S. property, Canada would pay compensation. Complaints of damage on the shores of the lakes had aroused considerable attention in the United States. Several bills on the matter had gone before Congress, some requesting the President to refer the question to the International Joint Commission, and the State Department had been pressed by Congressmen for such a reference.
The United States now proposed a joint reference of the high level of Lake Ontario for study and recommendation of remedial measures. Plans for the St. Lawrence project, whether for power and navigation (as under the 1941 Agreement) or for power alone (with a Canadian waterway) were based on a "Method of Regulation" to govern the out-flow and level of Lake Ontario which had been accepted by the officials of both governments. If the 1941 agreement were not approved, the "Method" would have to be approved by the commission as inherent in the construction and operation of the project submitted for approval. The Department of Transport and the Department of Resources and Development felt that, if the commission were already embarked on a lengthy study of remedial works not exclusively concerned with the St. Lawrence development, the time when plans for the St. Lawrence project could be referred to the commission would be postponed indefinitely.
In the circumstances, with the concurrence of the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Resources and Development, he submitted for approval a draft reply to the U.S. government to the effect that:
(a) construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project would mean regulation of the level of Lake Ontario on the basis of the agreed "Method", and establishment of a commission to report on the desirability of works for compensation and regulation in the Great Lakes system; and,
(b) it was already agreed to refer the St. Lawrence project, including the "Method", to the International Joint Commission for approval if the 1941 Agreement were not approved.
An explanatory memorandum had been circulated.
(Minister's memorandum, March 20, 1952 - Cab. Doc. 98-52?
28. The Minister of National Health and Welfare said there was flooding in the Windsor area and on Lake Erie which was likely to become worse before summer and result in increasing demands for action by the government. This condition had existed before the diversions were made into Lake Superior and recurred every fifteen years or so. In the circumstances, he felt some consideration would have to be given to the question of water level on the lakes in general.
29. The Minister of Transport pointed out that, under the new agreement with Ontario on power development in the international section of the St. Lawrence, the government had undertaken to do everything possible to obtain the approval of the International Joint Commission for works that would be constructed in accordance with the "Controlled Single Stage Project" which envisaged recourse to the "Method of Regulation" mentioned. Ontario would probably have to be consulted, therefore, if there were a question of a reference to the commission of the problem of levels in Lake Ontario.
His department felt that, if it became necessary, it would probably be possible to blow up Gut Dam, although the effects of such action would require careful study.
30. The Minister of Resources and Development said a reversal of the Long Lac and Ogoki diversions would not become fully effective for some five years and would provide no appreciable early relief on the lakes.
31. Mr. Pearson thought it would be advisable to try to make the proposed reply to the U.S. government more positive and to take the general position that the government would be glad to see the present problems in Lake Ontario met by implementation of the 1941 Agreement or, if that agreement were not approved, by reference of the power project to the commission.
32. The Cabinet after further discussion:
(a) approved the recommendation of the Secretary of State for External Affairs, , concurred in by the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Resources and Development, and agreed that a reply on the question of water levels in Lake Ontario be communicated to the U.S. government along the lines of that submitted; on the understanding that the three ministers would approve any drafting changes made; and,
(b) agreed that the Minister of Resources and Development provide data on water levels in the Great Lakes for consideration at a subsequent meeting.