At the 2023 Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Day on Parliament Hill in May, the IJC and several binational and Canadian organizations met with Canadian members of Parliament and senators to discuss approaches to restoring and protecting the basin’s resources. This gathering provided a timely opportunity to reflect on the federal government’s historic of CAD$420 million (US$306 million) for Great Lakes restoration and protection.
“The IJC applauds the Canadian government for its renewed commitment to protecting our shared waters—a goal that unites the people of this region across the political, cultural and social spectrum,” said IJC Canadian Commissioner Henry Lickers. According to the IJC Great Lakes Water Quality Board’s 2021 Great Lakes Regional Poll, 90 percent of the residents in the region think it’s important to protect the health and water quality of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.
At the evening reception, event organizers presented a dozen members of Parliament and senators with “Water Warrior” awards to recognize their commitment to protecting the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, including their role to secure federal funding for the region.
Representatives from several event organizers join members of Parliament and senators who received “Water Warrior” awards at the 2023 Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Day on Parliament Hill. Credit: MP Vance Badawey
Earlier in the afternoon, the IJC and other event organizers facilitated roundtables with almost 20 members of Parliament, senators and staff for in-depth discussions about the heavy lift that lies ahead.
The conversations focused on how federal elected officials can prioritize critical issues that ensure the protection of the basin, including implementing federal responsibilities under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Commissioner Lickers facilitated one of three daytime roundtables.
“Upgrading our science infrastructure, scaling up (environmental) surveillance, supporting monitoring, modelling and forecasting, and training the lake scientists of the future are all key gaps in our Great Lakes management,” said IJC US Co-chair Robert Sisson. “Regional leadership is key to ensuring today’s management decisions better anticipate future challenges.”
The IJC continues to engage key decision makers in the Great Lakes region to inform them about the Commission’s mandate, boards and ongoing work in the basin. The IJC’s participation in this event, just as with Great Lakes Day in Washington, D.C., in March 2023, serves to advance the Commission’s priority to help protect and restore the Great Lakes through transboundary cooperation.
Allison Voglesong Zejnati is public affairs specialist at the IJC’s Great Lakes Regional Office in Windsor, Ontario.