On Friday, for the first time in history, Federal ministerial mandate letters were made public.
Among many directives, the mandate letters called on various ministers to:
- Immediately review Canada’s environmental assessment processes to provide robust oversight and thorough assessments.
- Renew the federal government’s commitment to the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River and the lake Winnipeg Basin
- Act on recommendations of the Cohen Commission on restoring sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser River.
- Review the previous government’s changes to the Fisheries and Navigable Waters Protection Acts, restore lost protections, and incorporate modern safeguards.
- Mandate a Chief Science Officer to ensure that government science is fully available to the public, that scientists are able to speak freely about their work, and that scientific analyses are considered when the government makes decisions.
- Develop a 10-year plan to deliver significant new funding to provinces, territories and municipalities for green infrastructure, including investments in local water and wastewater facilities, clean energy, climate resilient infrastructure like flood mitigation systems, and infrastructure to protect against changing weather.
- Allow charities to do their work on behalf of Canadians free from political harassment.
We are pleased to see many of the priorities we know are important to Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast addressed in these mandates with directions to strengthen Canada's fresh water laws, address climate change, support monitoring and science and invest in green infrastructure.
We have a significant opportunity to drive success in each of these elements over the next four years. The snowball effect will be profound and could very well set in motion the kind of overflow we want to see--a surge in freshwater activity, protection and leadership across Canada.
Three things you can do to help these efforts:
- Recruit two additional endorsers for our Call to Action for Federal Leadership on Fresh Water. Now more than ever, we need to build the base of supporters for fresh water leadership. Help us by recruiting just 2 additional organizations, businesses or institutions to endorse the call to action.
- Write a letter to the editor to your local paper connecting the freshwater priorities in the mandate letters to the local issues important in your region. Or Blog your response to the newly release mandate letters (use #canh2o so we can see and promote your posts). Our goal is ensure that freshwater needs are being discussed in communities across Canada. Need some inspiration? Check out this handy toolkit we launched last month.
- Contact your local MP, if you haven’t already, and congratulate them on their recent victory. Be sure to ask for their leadership on fresh water matters in Ottawa. And, remember to connect this need for leadership to specific local issues! For example, if you live in Montreal, the recent raw sewage dump in the St. Lawrence River is a pinnacle of the need for infrastructure dollars to support protecting our local rivers, lakes and streams. If you missed our webinar on tips and strategies for building relations with your newly elected MP (or MPP, or MLA) and want to benefit from the tremendous advice, drop me a line and I'll send you a link to the webcast.
We have much work to do still to ensure these mandates and commitments translate into real, tangible results for the health of our waters, but let us walk through this newly opened door and start to realize the potential!