moved for leave to introduce Bill C-444, An Act to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act (water quality).
Madam Speaker, this bill would require the Minister of Foreign Affairs to undertake negotiations to amend the current International Boundary Waters Treaty between Canada and the United States.
This treaty dates back to 1909, so it is essential that it be amended to include new environmental standards, especially for water quality. For instance, it could include the establishment of buffer zones where the construction of infrastructure likely to affect the environment would be prohibited without the approval of the other country.
This bill relates to 82 boundary waters, rivers and lakes and involves 75 Canadian members of Parliament and 91 American senators and congressmen.
One concrete example is the landfill located in Coventry, Vermont. This landfill is just a few metres away from Lake Memphremagog, and Vermont recently approved an application to expand the dump significantly. It is important to note that 175,000 Canadians in Sherbrooke and Magog rely on this lake for drinking water.
The International Joint Commission, which already exists and reports to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, will oversee the enforcement of the proposed standards. These standards will be established on the basis of consultations with experts in both countries and in collaboration with the relevant provinces and states. We have to make sure that no other initiative like the Coventry landfill expansion disturbs boundary water relations between Canada and the United States.
We have to make sure that we protect the quality of boundary waters between Canada and the United States for our future generations.
(Motion deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)