Mr. Speaker, there is no question water is one of the more important topics we will be discussing in the future. There is a real perception of that now. The hon. member was talking in particular about groundwater.
In terms of the world's freshwater supply, water in the ground in aquifers, which are basically slow moving rivers, accounts for over 90% of the freshwater on the planet. Many people think it is the lakes, rivers and glaciers, but the reality is that 90% is through the aquifers which are connected to lakes and rivers by the hydrological cycle.
One very important issue is who is exactly responsible for what. Certainly in the province of Ontario it is the provincial government that gives permits for the drawing of water. On the Great Lakes we have international treaties, but the fact of the matter is that a watershed is under provincial control. It also passes to federal control and across the border because, as I said before, aquifers are slow moving rivers.
This takes me to another point which is a very important part of the debate. We need to be vigilant in protecting the aquifers. There are many examples where very good quality potable water in aquifers becomes contaminated and is lost for many decades until there is some way of taking remedial action.
I will put a question to the member from the Reform Party in terms of the debate on water. He mentioned municipal governments, provincial governments and the federal government. Would the member agree that we virtually need a high powered conference on this matter to set—