Q&A with Kootenay-Columbia Candidates

The five candidates for the federal election Ottawa's role in the Columbia River Treaty.

  • Sep. 17, 2015 7:00 p.m.

Should Ottawa be involved in Columbia River Treaty negotiations or should it be left to B.C.? If the former, what role do you see for the federal government? If the latter, why shouldn’t Ottawa be involved?

Bill Green

In my work with the Ktunaxa and Secwepemc Nations, I have been deeply involved in discussions about renewal of the Columbia River Treaty, focusing on restoring ecosystems and returning salmon to the Upper Columbia and Kootenay River watersheds.

I have spearheaded an initiative to learn how operation of the Treaty dams could be improved to benefit ecosystems, fish and wildlife, and local communities. We have proposed establishment of a Columbia Basin International Watershed Board under the auspices of the International Joint Commission.

There is no question about involvement of the federal government in Treaty negotiations. Ottawa has constitutional responsibility for international treaties, for rivers that cross the 49th parallel, and for fisheries. The federal government must work very closely with the government of BC but also with First Nations and local governments in the Columbia Basin to develop negotiating positions and, ultimately, negotiate effectively with the US government.

Don Johnston

The federal government has to be involved in the negotiations because the treaty is an agreement between the United States and Canada. Canada transferred the rights and obligations under the CRT to the province under the Canada-BC Agreement, but substantive treaty changes would require federal government involvement.

For Constitutional reasons the Federal Government also has to be involved in discussion on water use licenses, possible salmon restoration, and aboriginal rights, but our role would be to work closely with both the province and BC Hydro, the Canadian Entity appointed to implement the CRT on behalf of the province. Since Liberal policy to re-engage in an inclusive process with Indigenous Peoples mirrors Provincial goals the Federal partnership would not hinder the treaty process.  My former involvement with Columbia Basin Trust also ensures a priority that decisions would always consider the direct impacts on the people who live in the basin.

Wayne Stetski

The Columbia River Treaty has had significant impacts here in the Canadian portion of the Columbia River Basin. Substantial sacrifices were made by residents during the creation of the dams and reservoirs, and impacts continue as a result of hydro operations.

In 2012, the Association of Kootenay Boundary Local Governments formed a committee to ensure that all area residents had a say in the future of the Treaty.  As a member of that committee I participated in extensive public meetings that resulted in a report that contained recommendations to the Provincial and Federal governments.

I am proud to have played a role in ensuring that the voices of Kootenay Columbia residents were heard in the potential renewal of the Treaty. The role of the Federal government should be to support the collective voices of Basin residents and to seek to ensure that the recommendations are implemented.

David Wilks

The Columbia River Treaty (CRT) has no expiry date, but has a minimum length of 60 years, which is met in 2024.  One or both countries wishing to terminate the CRT must give at least 10 years notice. September 2014 was the earliest date to announce intent to terminate the CRT by 2024. An alteration of only one clause of the CRT would create a termination, resulting in negotiation of a new treaty. At this time, neither nation has indicated intention to terminate the CRT.

The CRT is an important agreement between Canada and the United States, which has helped both countries effectively manage flood control, downstream irrigation and power generation on the trans-boundary Columbia River for the past 50 years.  We look forward to working with the United States as it completes its own review process of the CRT.  As we look to the future of the Treaty, the Government of Canada, in close cooperation with British Columbia, will ensure that Canada and BC will continue to benefit from the Treaty

Christine Yahn

The Columbia River Treaty was one of the most devastating projects to be undertaken in the region on environment, economy, First Nations and private property rights. Within a few years of the treaty the Sinixt First Nations were conveniently declared extinct by the government despite the fact they were and still are a thriving culture. Salmon runs, sacred sites and fertile lands were flooded. Around 5,000 individuals private property was violated and flooded leaving them displaced with a minimal compensation for their homes.  Government should never have the authority to force people out of their homes and off their lands. Over 100,000 animals’ habitat was destroyed from the flooding. Economically the impact was far more negative than estimated, the revenue from hydroelectric dams did not match the initial costs associated with building the infrastructure, compensation for the people who were displaced or the estimated losses that were never taken into consideration of the fertile lands for agriculture and forestry. As a result funds were taken from schools,healthcare and forest services.

That being said, no I do not think Ottawa should have involvement in Columbia River Treaty negotiations. They will be mainly considering monetary positions and will not be personally affected by any decisions made. I believe that only parties who are directly affected by all aspects of an agreement such as this should have an active role in negotiations.

Just Posted

Business Profile: Kicking Horse Embroidery

Susan Leigan loves to sew and quilt, which is why she opened… Continue reading

Avalanche control work for Highway 1 this evening

The highway will be closed east of Golden at 4 p.m.

Showdown Throwdown brings two local bands back to back at Riverhouse

Get ready for a night of 90s pop punk and heavy rock… Continue reading

VIDEO: RCMP ask kids to help name soon-to-be police dogs

13 German shepherd puppies will be born this year

‘The whole city has changed:’ B.C. woman in New Zealand reacts to mosque attacks

An expatriate and Muslim students at UBC Okanagan deeply affected by white supremacist shooting

Trudeau condemns hateful, ‘toxic segments’ of society after New Zealand shooting

Prime Minister expressed sorrow at the many attacks in recent years

Air Canada grounds its Boeing Max 8s until at least July 1 to provide certainty

Airlines around the world have been working to redeploy their fleets since their Max 8s were grounded last week

Budget to tout Liberal economic record, provide distraction from SNC furor

This is the Liberal government’s fourth and final budget before the election

Horvat scores 16 seconds into OT as Canucks beat Blackhawks 3-2

Pettersson sets rookie scoring record for Vancouver

Vancouver Island overdue for the big one, can also expect mega-thrust tsunami

The last big earthquake was 70 years ago in Courtenay

No injuries, pollution in Vancouver Harbour ship collision: Transport Canada

Transportation Safety Board says it has deployed a team of investigators look into the incident

Budget 2019: Five things to watch for in the Liberals’ final fiscal blueprint

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will release the Trudeau government’s final budget on Tuesday

Most Read