GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO UNDERSTAND HOW UNIQUE LAKE SUPERIOR IS: HUGHES

Restore funding to maintain voices of basin communities at Binational Forum

Ottawa – Lake Superior needs friends on the government benches according to Carol Hughes whose questions about a Superior-focused group received a reply about Lake Simcoe.

Hughes, the MP for Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, was left wondering who will defend the largest freshwater lake in the world as her specific question about the Lake Superior Binational Forum funding received an answer that mentioned Lake Simcoe more than the Forum or Lake Superior itself.

“The member seemed to be focused on Lake Simcoe,” said Hughes in response to a reply from a Parliamentary Secretary.”  We are talking about Lake Superior here.”

The issue of funding for the Binational Forum has been an elusive one to get a straight answer from the government on.  The trend continued last night as the Parliamentary Secretary spoke around the issue in a weak attempt to promote an environmental strategy for the Great Lakes instead of addressing the cutbacks.

The Lake Superior Binational Forum, which brings together basin communities, was created at the suggestion of the International Joint Commission.  The forums work has been lauded by the United States Environmental Protection and Environment Canada who specifically mentioned it in a  2011 report on the lake wide management plan.  These glowing reports make the funding about-face all the more difficult to understand for Forum members and supporters alike.

    “What dismays many members, who were part of the original proposal, is that they, along with many others, have contributed thousands of hours of personal time and the government has not seen fit, or even find it necessary, to consult, notify or even thank them.” said Hughes.

The disappointing response from the  government showed a lack of sensitivity to the unique character and importance of Lake Superior as a headwater as well as a lack of concern for Forum participants who must pay out of pocket if they want to continue the work they have done with partners from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

“Ultimately, we have learned that the government has more money for fake lakes than it does for our biggest Great Lake,” concluded Hughes.  “It has more money for self-promotion than it does for the communities of Lake Superior to work with their basin neighbours on a common plan that protects this world-famous and entirely unique body of water.”

 

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For More Information:

Jamie Burgess, Office of Carol Hughes, 613-996-5389 or hughec0@parl.gc.ca