Baird Welcomes New Law Protecting Canadian Waters

June 19, 2013 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement:

“Our government always stands up for Canada. That’s why I am pleased to say the passage of Bill C-383 into law is an expression of that commitment.

“Canada’s water is not for sale, and I want to congratulate the bill’s sponsor, Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Larry Miller, for putting this legislation forward and seeing it through.”

Bulk water removal from rivers flowing across the Canada-U.S. border is now banned by law. The new law also prevents the linking of waters wholly in Canada to international rivers as a means of using the international rivers to transfer water in bulk across the international border.

A backgrounder follows.

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Backgrounder - Protecting Canadian Waters

In December 2011, Larry Miller, Member of Parliament for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, introduced a private member’s bill, C-383, to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act (IBWTA) and the International River Improvements Act (IRIA) to provide transboundary waters with the same protections against bulk water removals as those currently in place for boundary waters.

The bill passed the House on February 13, 2012, and was reported back to the Senate by the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee on May 2, 2013. It received third reading in the Senate on May 8, 2013, and received royal assent on June 19, 2013.

Along with providing transboundary waters (rivers that cross the Canada-United States border) with the same protections from bulk removals as are currently in place for boundary waters (lakes and rivers that straddle the border), Bill C-383 also puts in place an enforcement framework and strengthens penalties for violations. Further, some definitions and exceptions to bulk removal prohibitions currently found in the regulations of the IBWTA have been moved into the body of the act, making future changes subject to parliamentary approval.

Bill C-383 also contains an amendment to the IRIA that prevents a licence under the IRIA from being issued for any project linking a non-transboundary waterway to an international river where the purpose is to increase the annual flow of the international river at the boundary. This change has been made to prevent an international river being used as a means to transfer water in bulk across the international boundary.