Mr. Speaker, we could have gone on for the next 12 minutes with that useless banter back and forth about whether we should speak further here tonight, but I prefer to return to the substantial issue that is on the table.
I want to thank my colleague from Winnipeg North for working so hard to bring this issue forward so we could debate it and have this resolution that we have all supported. I thank her for the work she has done in getting us to a point where all of us could agree to a resolution that we will, through the government, put to our U.S. neighbours, and thereby we perhaps will have some constructive and positive resolution to this very difficult and worrisome challenge. It is being faced now and will continue to be faced by the member in her riding and by others who have spoken here tonight if we just continue on the path we are on.
It is also interesting that we who have brought the motion forward had only one speaker tonight on this matter, so I think it appropriate that we have a second shot at putting some matters on the record about this important issue.
In the time I have, I want to make a few brief comments on three areas that this subject allows us some opportunity to speak about. One is the ongoing problematic issue, I believe, and certainly as New Democrats we find this in terms of U.S.-Canadian agreements that we enter into on all kinds of subjects. At the end of the day, we end up in situations such as the one we have here tonight. We work at it, we think we have agreements, we get close to something that would be satisfactory, and then the U.S. decides unilaterally that in its own interest it is going to do something that is going to affect very negatively the interests of Canada and Canadian jurisdictions, both in the short term and in the long term.
Over and over again we have seen that problem and we see it again here tonight. I think the government needs to address that when it goes with this resolution in hand to speak to the government of North Dakota and to our U.S. counterparts in Washington about this particular issue. It is a trend that we have to nip in the bud. We have to stand up and be counted. We have to fight on behalf of Canadian interests to make sure that our sovereignty is protected, our land is protected, and our ecosystem and our resources are protected.
This is one piece that I think needs to be put on the table here tonight as we discuss this issue. It is indeed important. It will become more important as we try to protect this scarce resource we have that is so valuable and so important: our water and our water systems. We must not allow anything in the interests of protecting one or the other jurisdiction to affect this natural resource, which in fact is at risk as we speak here tonight.
The second issue that I think is important for us to reflect on is the issue of invasive species and what this diversion of water from Devils Lake into the Red River system and into Lake Winnipeg now presents to us as Canadians. We have seen it over and over again as we have not paid attention, as we have turned our backs, and as we might have thought that someone else was paying attention.
We have had invasive species come into our country. Not only have they have affected us in the short term, but they are doing so now as we move forward into the long term and as we try to protect the integrity of our natural resources against species that do not belong here in the first place. They are species that cause us all kinds of concern and will attack our ecosystem in a way that could destroy it altogether if we do not stand up and do something, particularly immediately and initially when we identify that we have a problem coming at us.
In this instance, we have done that. We can take proactive and pre-emptive action here. Together, the U.S. government, the North Dakota government, the Manitoba government and the Canadian government could put in place some vehicles that could help us with this.
We have seen it in my own jurisdiction in the Great Lakes and Lake Superior, which are so important to my constituency of Sault Ste. Marie and indeed northern Ontario. We have seen the bringing in of the zebra mussel, which is now causing us such concern and doing such damage. It is costing us literally millions of dollars to try to correct this problem as we go forward.
We did not do anything about the sea lamprey, which has become a huge problem and a huge challenge for us. Every year literally thousands and millions of dollars are being spent to treat the St. Mary's River in Sault Ste. Marie, not to get rid of sea lamprey, which we should be doing, but to simply control the growth of sea lamprey. Sea lamprey attack the fish that are so important to that ecosystem and to the livelihood of many of our constituents, friends and neighbours up there, not to speak of the livelihood of our first nations.
It is important that tonight we address the issue of invasive species and that we have a chance in this instance to take pre-emptive action to stop this problem before it actually gets out of control.
The third issue, and perhaps the most important issue in this whole question, is how we deal with our water. This is a strange situation in some ways.
Last night in Sault Ste. Marie, I hosted a public forum with scientists and engineers from the International Joint Commission. A number of organizations in my area hosted this. These organizations are concerned about the Lake Superior and Lake Huron watershed and the fact that our water is going down.
The water in Lake Superior has gone down by two feet in the last six to nine months. The people who live along that lake are seeing it and they are concerned. They want to know why this is happening. They want to know if there is anything we can do about it. They want to know if together the Canadian and U.S. government can actually determine and detect what is going on so that we can protect our water resource, which is in fact a glacial deposit, Once it is lost, it will not come back again.
Our water is a natural resource that as a nation we have not come to fully appreciate. We have not come to appreciate how valuable our water really is now and how valuable it will be in the future. I am speaking of clean water, water we can drink, water that will sustain life in all of its forms. That is what we are talking about in Manitoba with respect to the Red River Basin and Lake Winnipeg. We are talking about protecting the integrity of that water source so that it will continue to be a source of life for our livelihoods, our fish, our animals, our trees and the communities along that watershed.
It seems to me that if we were being cooperative, if we were honouring and acting in good faith with respect to some of the agreements that we have made with each other, and if those agreements were working properly, we could find a way to protect this valuable resource in a better way than what we see happening in the North Dakota Devils Lake and Red River situation we are talking about here tonight.
Over the years, through the oversight of the International Joint Commission, we have worked quite cooperatively in looking at the different ways in which we can ensure that the levels of our Great Lakes, and particularly for me the upper Great Lakes, are kept at a healthy balance as we deal with the weather, climate change and all of the other things that affect the amount of water we have and where that water goes.
The work of the IJC, the International Joint Commission, has been quite effective up to now. A $17 million study by the IJC is about to start and will take probably about five years. Every 10 years the commission takes a look at water quantity in the Great Lakes and how it is managed.
Last night's event in Sault Ste. Marie was an initial attempt to get some public input. It was a chance for the people who are very concerned about the levels of the water in Lake Superior and Lake Huron to speak to these scientists and engineers about what they are seeing every day as they look at the lake that we who live in the area have stewardship over. It was also a chance for the engineers and the scientists themselves to present to my constituents and the others who were there, including some Americans, some of what they see as the important factors in terms of water in and water out.
They presented a very compelling argument that what is happening in the Great Lakes is an effect of climate change. For the last 10 years we have had above normal temperatures and below normal water levels, so we have a problem.
This is what is interesting. We have a problem of lack of water where we are, but parts of the United States are in drought. Parts of the United Statest have a shortage of water and, looking forward, some areas of the United States do not know where they are going to get water once they use up all the glacial runoff from the mountains--