Native Village
Youth and Education news
Volume 3 October, 2011

Protect Great Lakes as Commons, says Council of Canadians
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Condensed by Native Village

Canada: The Council of Canadians wants the Canadian government to protect the Great Lakes Basin as:

A Commons
A Public Trust
A Protected Bioregion

They outline the hows and whys in a new report:

Our Great Lakes Commons: A People's Plan to Protect the Great Lakes Forever

The report is a call to designate the Great Lakes and its tributary waters as a lived Commons: to be shared, protected, managed and enjoyed by all who live around them.

"The Great Lakes crisis is part of the global crisis, in which we are quickly running out of fresh water," said Maude Barlow from CC. "It's not a closed hydrological cycle like we were taught.  We are losing clean water through irrigation, bottled water, virtual water trade and more."

"Scientists say that the Great Lakes could be bone dry in 80 years," Barlow added. "The World Bank says that water demand is outstripping supply by 40%, producing great suffering."

The Great Lakes Basin Commons would need legal and political protection based on Public Trust Doctrine. This means a legal agreement that the Great Lakes are central to the existence of the people, plants and animals living on or near them. Therefore, the lakes must be protected for the common good from generation to generation.

The Council of Canadians is calling on Canada's government for more funding and resources to do so.

"It's time for the [Canadian] federal government to step up their commitment to restoring the Great Lakes," says Emma Lui.  "The Obama administration had originally proposed $475 million for Great Lakes clean up, even the Republican party supported $225 million for the Restoration Initiative. In the last budget, the [Canadian] Harper Government allocated a mere $8 million to protect the Great Lakes. The federal government needs to increase funding significantly in order to protect the Great Lakes as a commons, public trust and protected bioregion."

The long-term goal of the Great Lakes Basin Commons is to see a full treaty between Canada and the U.S. that declares the Great Lakes to be a lived Commons, Public Trust and Protected Bioregion. The treaty must also be adopted by the states, provinces and First Nations of the Basin.

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