Vol. 148, No. 14 — July 2, 2014
SI/2014-60 July 2, 2014
TRANSBOUNDARY WATERS PROTECTION ACT
Order Fixing July 1, 2014 as the Day on which Sections 13 and 14 of the Act Come into Force
C.P. 2014-811 June 18, 2014
His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to section 15 of the Transboundary Waters Protection Act, chapter 12 of the Statutes of Canada, 2013, fixes July 1, 2014 as the day on which sections 13 and 14 of that Act come into force.
(This note is not part of the Order.)
To fix July 1, 2014, as the coming into force date for sections 13 and 14 of the Transboundary Waters Protection Act (the Act).
To bring into force amendments made in the Act, which received Royal Assent on June 19, 2013. The purpose of the Act is to strengthen federal protections against bulk water removals from Canada, which is in line with the Government’s November 2008 commitment to prevent bulk transfers of water across the border.
The November 2008 Speech from the Throne included a commitment to prevent bulk transfers of Canadian water across the border. On December 13, 2011, Private Member’s Bill C-383 was introduced for the purpose of strengthening federal protections against bulk water removals from Canada. Consistent with Canada’s 2008 commitment, Parliament adopted the Act, which received Royal Assent on June 19, 2013. The Act amends the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act (IBWTA) and the International River Improvements Act (IRIA).
Amendments to the IBWTA
The Act primarily amends the IBWTA, which is under the mandate of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Currently, bulk removals from boundary waters are prohibited under the IBWTA. Boundary waters are waters that straddle the border, such as the Great Lakes. The amendments to the IBWTA include prohibiting the removal of water in bulk from transboundary waters. Transboundary waters are waters that, in their natural channels, flow across the international boundary between Canada and the United States. The amendments to the IBWTA also strengthen the enforcement and penalty provisions of the IBWTA and move certain definitions and exceptions that are currently found in the regulations of the IBWTA into the IBWTA itself.
Amendments to the IRIA
Sections 13 and 14 of the Act amend the International River Improvements Act (IRIA), which is under the mandate of the Minister of the Environment. Most significantly, the Act adds a provision to the IRIA, whereby the Minister of the Environment will be prevented from issuing a licence for an international river improvement (i.e. dam, obstruction, canal, reservoir or other work) that links waters that are neither boundary waters nor transboundary waters to an international river if the purpose or effect of the improvement would increase the annual flow of the international river at the international boundary. An international river means water flowing from any place in Canada to any place outside Canada. The purpose of this provision is to prevent risk of environmental harm to Canadian ecosystems by preventing an international river from being used as a means to transfer water in bulk out of the country.
Amendments to the IBWTA and the IRIA strengthen prohibitions against the removal of water in bulk from boundary and transboundary waters, which are under federal jurisdiction. The amendments found in the Act are intended to ensure that these waters are treated in a common manner. These federal protections complement provincial laws, regulations and policies that are in place to protect against bulk water removals.
The provinces were informed that the Government would be supporting Bill C-383 prior to its passage in the House of Commons. During the legislative process in the House and Senate, parliamentary committees reviewed the legislation and held hearings that included representation from Canadian water experts. The Bill unanimously passed both the House and Senate.
Manon N. Lalonde
Water and Climate Services