Water Experts Propose Blueprint for Federal Action on Freshwater
The Gordon Water Group of Concerned Scientists and Citizens, a new coalition of water scientists and policy experts, released Changing the Flow: A Blueprint for Federal Action on Freshwater – which it describes as a comprehensive action plan for the protection of Canada’s fresh water.
“We are pleased to see that the Government of Canada recognizes the importance of sustainable clean water to Canadians. The Gordon Water Group has released a blueprint for federal action on freshwater that we believe provides the direction needed to protect Canada’s freshwater,” said Brenda Lucas, Water Programme Manager of the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation, which supported the blueprint.
After two decades of what it describes as dwindling federal action on fresh water policy, the Gordon Water Group reports that it is encouraged by what appears to be a renewed interest in water at the federal level in Canada. In the recent Speech from the Throne, the federal government committed to create a new water strategy, and all federal parties have made new commitments on freshwater policy in Canada. It is critical that all parties cooperate to quickly develop and implement a comprehensive freshwater action plan.
“Canadians are concerned about their water resources. They are seeing melting glaciers and drought in the Prairies, falling water levels in the Great Lakes, and worsening pollution in many of our rivers and lakes. The profound effects that climate change is predicted to have on water quality and quantity only increase the urgency,” says Tony Maas, Senior Freshwater Policy Advisor with WWF-Canada and one of the authors of the report.
The Blueprint released today is intended to provide the basis for that plan. It is a framework for strengthening the federal role in protecting Canada’s water. Lucas adds: “We hope to work with the federal government and all federal parties to help them implement a plan to protect water quality, manage water uses, and collaborate effectively with other levels of government including Aboriginal governments.”
Changing the Flow identifies seven priority areas where the federal government must take action on fresh water:
- Securing safe drinking water for all Canadians
- Protecting aquatic ecosystems and aboriginal water rights
- Responding to the impacts of climate change
- Preventing interjurisdictional conflicts and bulk water exports
- Promoting a culture of water conservation
- Enhancing national capacity for freshwater protection; and
- Developing world class water science
The Gordon Water Group sent its report to all federal Members of Parliament., and is available at www.gordonwatergroup.ca
Who is the Gordon Water Group?
The Gordon Water Group of Concerned Scientists and Citizens is a group of researchers, experts, and citizens who have come together out of deep concern for Canada’s escalating water crisis. The group is linked by their connections to the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation and were brought together through the leadership of Sierra Club of Canada.
They are scientists, lawyers, policy experts and former senior government policy advisors who represent environmental organizations, university research centres, policy consultancies, an indigenous centre and a not-for-profit foundation. As a group, they believe that today’s water challenges, and those that lie ahead, can be overcome with a commitment to good water governance, comprehensive policy and planning, and active community participation.
Why the Gordon Group?
Walter Gordon, co-founder of the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation, was widely respected for his commitment to public service and his wide-ranging interest in Canadian public policy. As a Member of Parliament from 1962 to1968, he served in influential Cabinet posts, including as Minister of Finance and as President of the Privy Council Office. In the 1970s he inspired the formation of the Committee for an Independent Canada, a citizens’ group dedicated to the promotion of Canadian economic and cultural independence.
Since its inception in 1965, the Foundation has supported innovation and leadership in public policy through public discussion and the development of new ideas. This focus—a direct result of Walter Gordon’s legacy—permeates its Freshwater Resources Protection Programme, which was inaugurated formally in 2003.
According to the Gordon Water Group: “Walter Gordon served as an inspiration for a generation of Canadian nationalists and is still remembered for his unwavering defence of Canada’s economic independence and sovereignty. Thus it is particularly fitting that this group of professionals, expert in water-related issues and associated with one of the core programmes of the Foundation—indeed one of the most critical issues of Canadian sovereignty—has chosen to organize under the name of Gordon.”
Posted October 2007