Model law for preserving Canada's water is unveiled

    Better protection needed, say experts at Munk Centre panel

    TORONTO, Feb. 6 /CNW/ - A model statute for protecting Canada against the
bulk removal of water from its major drainage basins was unveiled today in
advance of a panel discussion at the Munk Centre's Program on Water Issues.
    The model legislation, drafted by the Canadian Water Issues Council
(CWIC), addresses the need for a national approach to protecting this
resource, the panel explained.
    "Prohibiting bulk removal is a principle that is agreed to by all major
political parties and is supported by the great majority of ordinary
Canadians," said the Council's briefing paper, A Model Act for Preserving
Canada's Waters. The model statute, as presented "would be both consistent
with Canada's trade obligations and respectful of the roles of different
levels of government within Canada."
    "There is a growing risk that North Americans may commit the ultimate
ecological error by beginning to move large amounts of water over long
distances, resulting in massive economic losses and ecosystem collapse in many
donor regions," says Ralph Pentland, CWIC's Acting Chairman. "The model
legislation, drafted by the Council, addresses the need for a national
approach to protecting this vital resource."
    "We do not know what the full effect of climate change on our water
resources will be over the next few decades, but there is widespread consensus
that climate change will only serve to increase - perhaps dramatically in some
regions - the stresses on our water resources... Now, not later - when it may
prove too late - is the time to act on this issue of national concern."
    The Model Act is designed to trigger discussion and action at the federal
level, the CWIC briefing explained. "It is not intended to provide all the
answers." For example, more dialogue will be needed with provincial and local
governments, with First Nations and with communities that live near or use
Canada's abundant freshwater. Canada has approximately 6.5 per cent of the
world's renewable freshwater, but many experts have noted that even this
relatively large resource is under stress and in danger of being depleted if
not protected and used wisely.
    "The time for the vital dialogue to begin on this issue is now," the
briefing paper said.

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