May 23, 1956 (22nd Parliament, 3rd Session)


Jean Lesage (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)


Hon. Jean Lesage (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources):

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make an announcement, the text of which has been agreed to by the governments of Canada and the United States for simultaneous release today. It is as follows:
The Canadian and United States governments have decided to examine together the subject of waters which flow across the international boundary between the two countries.
The last time both governments examined this matter thoroughly together was before the conclusion of the boundary waters treaty of 1909. During the 46 years which have elapsed since its ratification, the international joint commission, which was established by the treaty, has worked with outstanding success in solving water problems within the framework of this treaty.
It has recently appeared, however, that the development of the resources of such basins as the Saint John, the Columbia and the Yukon requires, among other things, the solution of various complicated legal, economic and engineering questions. In agreeing to examine the matter of waters which cross the boundary, the two governments realize that there may be no easy or quick answer to the problems which are arising today in such areas and that the studies may reveal that the boundary waters treaty of 1909 is sufficiently broad to meet present problems. The two governments believe, however, that a full and confidential exchange of views may contribute to the resolution of these problems and it is in this spirit that the discussions have been agreed to. At the same time, the two governments desire that the international joint coffimission shall press forward its studies under the Columbia river basin reference of 1944 and the other similar references which it has under consideration.
I should like to add, Mr. Speaker, that I have written to the premiers of the provinces that are directly concerned with waters crossing the boundary and I have sent them copies of the announcement. I have told them that I will welcome any views or suggestions they may wish to make concerning the subject matter of the forthcoming discussions and I have added that I will be in touch with them further as matters develop.
I might also add that, in response to an invitation extended by the premier of British Columbia, I shall visit Victoria for discussions with Mr. Bennett on water problems on June 5.

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