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Old Jun 15th, 2005, 09:25 AM   #1
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North Dakota out to screw Canada, again

Turning the taps on a toxic dispute
North Dakota set to launch flood plan

Canada fears pollution will flow in

WASHINGTON—The Sheyenne River begins in North Dakota, leisurely meanders its way eastward, takes a little dip south, then joins the Red River for its northward jaunt into Manitoba.
There it runs smack into what has become the most acrimonious dispute in the growing cauldron of bilateral battles between Ottawa and Washington.
At issue is North Dakota's determination to open the taps, possibly by July 1, on a $28 million (U.S.) water diversion project that Canada maintains will send mercury, salts, sulphates and fish parasites north of the border, polluting Manitoba waters.
Not only is the environment threatened, but also a nearly century-old treaty governing Canada-U.S. border waters.
"How can the United States impose `democratic values' around the world when it can't implement democratic treaties between Canada and the United States?" asks Manitoba Premier Gary Doer.
Canada says the Devils Lake project, intended to prevent flooding in North Dakota, threatens Lake Winnipeg's multimillion recreational and commercial fishery, and could ultimate flush contamination all the way up to Hudson Bay.
The project would reduce the level of flood-prone Devils Lake by letting 170,000 litres per minute flow into the Sheyenne.
North Dakota denies the water is polluted.
Earlier this month, the North Dakota State Supreme Court agreed the Devils Lake outlet will degrade the water quality of the Red River — but it refused Manitoba's bid to stop construction of the 23-kilometre project.
Canada, led by Doer, is asking U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to refer the dispute to the International Joint Commission, the cross-border authority created to resolve disputes as part of the 96-year-old Canada-U.S. Boundary Waters Treaty.
To allow North Dakota to ignore the treaty is to essentially render the bilateral agreement useless and set a precedent that threatens any Canadian region bordering on the Great Lakes or other transnational water bodies, Ottawa says.
"We certainly don't want to celebrate Canada Day with North Dakota unilaterally turning on the taps," Doer said.
In the Commons yesterday, Prime Minister Paul Martin called North Dakota's actions "simply unacceptable" and said Canada would continue to press the U.S. In Texas earlier this year, Martin went out of his way to publicly raise the Devils Lake dispute at a joint news conference with U.S. President George W. Bush.
"The fact is that I have raised this with the president and ... we are in constant negotiation now with the Americans," Martin said. "I am not in a position to say when those negotiations will conclude but ... we will leave no stone unturned in solving this problem."
Doer is convinced the White House, through Martin's efforts, realizes the importance and urgency of the matter.
"If a state or a province can develop a state or provincial project that has water cross the international border with no scientific review of its impact, it ignores a treaty which has been there for almost 100 years," Doer said. "We'd hate to blow 100 years of treaty over a couple of inches of water because no one has the backbone to take on North Dakota."
Some observers in North Dakota have accused Doer of playing the always-popular anti-American card and suggested Washington's lack of eagerness to move stems from lingering coolness over Martin's decision to opt out of the U.S. missile defence plan and a sense here that until recently it appeared his government was going to collapse.
Privately, some Canadian officials complain that some powerful legislators who would be expected to rally to Ottawa's environmental argument are more occupied with the politics in Washington, watching how alliances unfold.
The object of most of the Canadian frustration is North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad, who got into a war of words two months ago with Reg Alcock, Martin's political minister for Manitoba.
Conrad accused Alcock of engaging in "theatrics" after he claimed Conrad had snubbed him by not meeting him in Washington to discuss the Devils Lake project.
The state's senior senator, Conrad, a 57-year-old Democrat with almost two decades in the Senate, also helped lead the recent Senate resolution to keep Canadian beef exports banned from the U.S. He is backed by his fellow Democrat, Byron Dorgan, and the pair wield unusual power on Capitol Hill.
Doer and Ottawa have lined up support from powerful allies to the north, south, east and west of North Dakota — but Dorgan and Conrad are using their seniority and key positions on the Senate appropriations committee to their advantage.
The Grand Forks Herald, in an editorial last month, pointed out that anti-Americanism plays well on the Canadian left, but also pointed out that North Dakota politicians play to the xenophobia of the tiny state. The newspaper pointed out that Dorgan has made Canada the scapegoat on several issues.
Last week, Conrad had a private meeting with David Wilkins, the new U.S. ambassador to Canada, then released a statement saying he stressed to the new envoy the diversion project cannot be delayed. He told Wilkins the average length of time for the International Joint Commission to decide on a dispute is 8 1/2 years.
Canadian embassy spokesperson Jasmine Pantakhy called the 8 1/2-year claim "spurious." That average time includes dispute resolution hearings that were interrupted by such things as world wars.
Canada, she said, has agreed to abide by any decision of the joint commission and said some disputes have been resolved in as a few as six months. Of 53 disputes referred to the commission, 51 have been resolved by mutual agreement.
Doer has managed to cobble together Canadian support at all political levels and the embassy here has brought many influential U.S. voices on side.
In Canada, Quebec Environment Minister Thomas Mulcair and Premier Jean Charest as well as Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty have spoken out in support of Doer. And Toronto Mayor David Miller has teamed with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley to spearhead opposition to North Dakota on behalf of mayors of Great Lakes cities.
"If this is not referred to the (International Joint Commission)," Mulcair said at a recent conference, "I'm really concerned that 100 years of a stable institutional relationship with the Americans on this important issue of water might be lost and that would be a tragedy."
In Ottawa, Winnipeg Centre MP Pat Martin said yesterday Canada should use trade sanctions if necessary to stop North Dakota from diverting polluted water into his province.
The New Democrat made the comment after the Commons environment committee demanded decisive federal action to stop the water diversion.
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Old Jun 15th, 2005, 10:29 AM   #2
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Once again, our colourful federal leadership (cough, cough) illustrates how they are completely incapable of dealing with anything negatively affecting Canada on an international level...
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Old Jun 15th, 2005, 10:31 AM   #3
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"Earlier this month, the North Dakota State Supreme Court agreed the Devils Lake outlet will degrade the water quality of the Red River"
-WOW, now that's impressive.

I remember during the "Flood of the Century" (version 1996), there were some very peeved off ND politicians and residents who believed Manitoba was the cause of so much flooding in ND. (Winnipeg's Flood Gates coincidentally, also caused flooding in small communities around Winnipeg) That is when this whole Devil's Lake issue arose.

From what I can remember, ND an Manitoba have always been bickering about water at some point... then again, I couldn't imagine them arguing about anything much more.

Perhaps the members of parliament should also look in to the amount of dumping that Canada does in to the U.S. Isn't Canada the greater evil when it comes to dumping in the Great Lakes? I'm sure parliament won't consider any trade sanctions.

To those living in a flood plain:

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Old Jun 15th, 2005, 10:32 AM   #4
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Old Jun 15th, 2005, 10:58 AM   #5
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No but Amerikans does.

I would say this kind of activity clearly marks incipient fascism as does the kangaroo court with the kid.

Homeland uber alle......

Wonder when they'll want to Liberate Americans living in Canada ala Czechslovakia and another would be emperor.

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Old Jun 15th, 2005, 11:00 AM   #6
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they are just allowing us to live on this continent to exploit our resources, remember!
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Old Jun 15th, 2005, 11:47 AM   #7
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Hey, you guys! You all be careful, now!

They'll roll over one night and crush you all! I know this because I saw a nice lady say it on the TV once!
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Old Jun 15th, 2005, 12:10 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by jicon
I remember during the "Flood of the Century" (version 1996), there were some very peeved off ND politicians and residents who believed Manitoba was the cause of so much flooding in ND. (Winnipeg's Flood Gates coincidentally, also caused flooding in small communities around Winnipeg) That is when this whole Devil's Lake issue arose.

From what I can remember, ND an Manitoba have always been bickering about water at some point... then again, I couldn't imagine them arguing about anything much more.
From what I remember of my time in Winnipeg, the flood gates DON'T cause flooding (ie. they don't back up the water or block the river), they divert the extra water around the city of Winnipeg. If you don't open the flood gates, that's what causes flooding. Of course, Winnipeg's flood gates only protect Winnipeg and maybe a few communities north of it. It doesn't protect the communities south of it in Manitoba and the river floods them. It's North Dakota's own damn fault they get flooded. They've done absolutely nothing about it for the last several decades, except complain about it. They love complaining about it. Manitoba has often though about creating a floodway at the border to solve all of Manitoba's problems.

I have followed this story, vaguely, but can't see how diverting water into the Red River is going to solve flooding, isn't that going to cause more flooding?

Of course to me this all just sounds like the US is SCREWING us Canadians once again.
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Old Jun 15th, 2005, 12:34 PM   #9
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Wow! Short-sighted in the EXTREME! Aren't they going to want all that clean, fresh water pretty soon?

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Old Jun 15th, 2005, 12:40 PM   #10
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"Wonder when they'll want to Liberate Americans living in Canada...?" MacDoc, they can start here in NL. We have dozens of American-Canadians here in St.John's, with more scattered around our fine province. We offer clean air, off-shore oil, tourism, hunting/fishing, spectacular views, North America's oldest city, hydroelectricity, minerals and forest products...............everything that American companies would just love to exploit. So, let's make us all "One people" under one ruler -- Good Old George W. Bush. God bless him. God Bless America.

Now, where did I put my letters of transit signed by DeGaulle????
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