This morning, I was invited to attend a special conference held by Ontario’s Minister of the Environment, Glen Murray. The announcement: The Great Lakes Protection Act will be reintroduced to Ontario’s legislation.
Two years ago the same Act was introduced to Ontario’s legislation. It didn’t pass before the election, and the MOE is hoping this one will pass quickly.
As a lawyer with two decades' experience in environmental law, I believe the Great Lakes Protection Act comes at an important time:
- The Great Lakes undeniably need help.
Based on our “swim, drink, fish” formula, Waterkeeper measures the health of a watershed by asking four questions: Is the water clean enough to touch? Is the water clean enough to drink? Are the fish clean enough to eat? Are there healthy and thriving fish and wildlife populations? For the last 6 years, we’ve collected information that answer these questions. And regardless of where you live or what your interest may be, the results aren’t good.
- The Act empowers provincial departments to protect the Great Lakes more effectively
The Great Lakes Protection Act helps break barriers – between the public and the government, and between internal government departments. Just as the Great Lakes influence every part of our daily lives, the Act will influence decision-making across all aspects of government. This ensures the Great Lakes can become swimmable, drinkable, fishable again.
- Ontario has an opportunity to show leadership.
Ontario has more Great Lakes shoreline than any other province or state. The health and prosperity of the Great Lakes is dependent on the direction Ontario chooses. If the Great Lakes are to be healthy, then Ontario must show leadership.
The Great Lakes Protection Act can be seen as a catalyst for change. It has the potential to bring us closer to a day where every person can safely go to a beach, drink from a tap, or catch a fish.
Water isn’t a partisan issue. It is critical to all people economically, culturally, and environmentally. I commend the MOE and all leaders who recognize the value in protecting and restoring Ontario's most precious resource.