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March 24, 2011
The Honourable John Wilkinson, M.P.P.
Minister of the Environment
Government of Ontario
77 Wellesley Street West
11th Floor, Ferguson Block
Toronto ON M7A 2T5
I am writing on behalf of the federal ministries of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Fisheries and Oceans, Health, Natural Resources, and Transport, Infrastructure and Communities regarding the extension of the Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem.
Since 1971, Canada and Ontario have worked together under a series of Great Lakes agreements. Those agreements have guided our efforts to improve the water quality and aquatic ecosystem health of the Great Lakes Basin, and contributed to meeting Canada's obligations under the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Canada and the United States are currently negotiating amendments to that agreement to strengthen and modernize the agreement to address existing and emerging threats. While those negotiations proceed to completion, it is important that our respective governments continue to work together under the Canada-Ontario Agreement framework so that our efforts to restore, protect and conserve the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem are not interrupted.
Accordingly, I am writing to confirm our mutual agreement to extend the term of the Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem to June 24, 2012, the maximum extension permitted under federal law, and to add new commitments to the Agreement in support of our efforts to protect the Great Lakes.
The current Canada-Ontario Agreement is scheduled to expire on March 31, 2011. Article XI permits Canada and Ontario to amend the Agreement by an exchange of letters. On behalf of our respective governments, we have agreed to amend the Agreement by extending its term to June 24, 2012, and to add new commitments to the Agreement in support of our efforts for the protection of the Great Lakes during the extension. The amendments are set out in the enclosed appendix.
The Government of Canada pledges to work together with the Government of Ontario under the existing Canada-Ontario Agreement, and to negotiate a new Canada-Ontario Agreement expeditiously, so that a new agreement will be in effect on or before June 25, 2012. In our view, there should be no gap between the expiry of the existing agreement and the commencement of a new one.
The Great Lakes are vital in supporting our environment, economy and society. Canada appreciates Ontario's continued commitment to protect and improve these important waters.
(original signed by)
The Honourable Peter Kent, P.C., M.P.
cc: The Honourable Gerry Ritz, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Gail Shea, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Leona Agglukaq, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Christian Paradis, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Chuck Strahl, P.C., M.P.
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