The following are excerpts from a March 8 issue
of The Hamilton Spectator written as
The Spectator's View on the Opinion Page...
by Howard Elliott
It has become common for defenders of Donald Trump to argue the Canadian media is obsessed with the U.S. President. But what if what's happening in Trump's America has a direct and harmful impact on Canadians? That will be the case if Trump's plan to gut funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) by 97% becomes reality. Under the plan, that funding would drop from $300 million annually to a mere $10 million.
The initiative was put in place to clean up the world's largest system of freshwater lakes. It has broad bilateral support from eight U.S. states adjacent to the lakes as well as Ontario, Quebec and Canada overall. The Great Lakes are a crucial natural resource...and one we too often take for granted.
We get our drinking water from the lakes.
They handle treated waste water.
They drive commercial interests like shipping, fishing and tourism.
Hydro electric generation relies on them.
Krystyn Tully, co-founder of the charity, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper states:
“The Great Lakes is one of the few regions in the world
where drinking water that we get from our taps comes from lakes
where we also get our waste water, so the quality of the water
is more important here than almost anywhere else.
We need a higher standard of protection.
We need more investment in water quality.”
In 2010 the GLRI was launched, ostensibly to recover and protect the lakes on behalf of the tens of millions of Canadians and Americans who rely on them. The mission objectives? To keep the lakes clean...prevent and control invasive species...restore natural habitats...and reduce nutrient run-off... and poisons that kill fish. This is not some trendy, fringe environmental project.
This is life and death!
The good news is that the U.S. budget system is different from ours.
The White House develops budget plans and priorities...and submits them to Congress,
which approves, modifies or even ignores presidential wishes.
The latter is what needs to happen to this Trump plan.
Anything that hurts water quality in The Great Lakes hurts 90% of Ontario's population
and has a negative impact on 40% of Canada's economic activity. That cannot happen!
Fortunately, the governors and citizens of eight states who also rely on the lakes will feel the same. They are mostly states that supported Trump and they won't take kindly to his messing with their future health and prosperity.
Submitted by Merle Baird-Kerr...March 8, 2017