The Honourable Keith Ashfield Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Parliament Buildings
Dear Minister Ashfield,
The National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) finds it unfathomable and unacceptable that your Ministry would cancel the internationally renowned Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) program, which has for many years been a model of how scientific research, properly structured and invested in, can be of invaluable service to Canadians and many millions of people world-wide.
NCWC’s interest in the environment and the health and welfare of Canadians as it relates to the ELA is long standing. For instance in 1978, with regard to the damages of acid rain on our fresh water lakes, we noted that “S04, when associated with Hf , together forming sulphuric acid, has been documented to have caused irreversible ecological damage in waters with low buffering capacity in the Precambrian Shield areas of Canada, Scandinavia and the USA.” We then asked the government of Canada to “Investigate potential human health hazards of acid rain and to continue research programs to determine the current state of representative components of the natural environments; continuously monitor the environmental effects of acid rain; and study the occurrence and effects of long-range transport of S02 and its products within and into Canada, including their origin, their geographical extent and their overall effects on natural aquatic and terrestrial systems, the quantities of S02 which are assimilable by geographic region, without undue harm, and the likelihood of recovery of systems from over exposure to acid rain.” NCWC went on to ask that “an international, bi-lateral agreement with the United States on acid rain control and abatement be persued.”
It was ELA’s “lakes-based, whole-ecosystem” approach, conducted at its research facility in an area bounded by 58 lakes in the Precambrian Shield in northwestern Ontario where acid rain has been a significant concern, that resulted in the 1990 US-Canada Air Quality Agreement. In turn, this led to a reduction in acid rain in the 1990s and the agreement was expanded in 2000 to include transboundary smog emissions under the Ozone Annex.
ELA research has covered not only acid rain, but other issues that NCWC has had concerns about over very many years, such as green house gas emissions and climate change, mercury pollution, aquaculture, watershed and lake protections, and the preservation and enhancement of ecosystems “whole-ecosystem” approach.
Canada, as the lead initiator of the ELA, with Ontario as a partner, should be justly proud of such an internationally successful project which has resulted not only in important treaties such as the US-Canada Air Quality Treaty, but in hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific articles, data reports and books, which have led to the development of sound scientific policies, plans and programs in Canada and around the world. And, on a practical monetary level, ELA has received excellent reviews from Canada’s Auditor General’s office and, over the last 10 years, a federal investment in $4 million in new infrastructure.
NCWC members across Canada applaud the important work and accomplishments of the ELA. We urge you, as Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, to intervene personally to protect this unique and irreplaceable agency, which has such a tremendous history of successful, ground-breaking, fiscally responsible environmental research that has helped Canada be a leader in protecting our environment and that of other countries.
In closing, we respectfully ask that in making any determination regarding such an intervention, that you consider the views of the National Council of Women of Canada, a Council which represents hundreds of thousand of Canadians through its 19 nationally federated organizations, with Provincial Council federates in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, 14 Local Councils across Canada and Study Groups in Prince Edward Island and Oakville, Ontario.
Denise Mattok President
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