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January 11, 1999

MEDIA RELEASE

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and President Bill Clinton
Mark 90th Anniversary of IJC

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien visited the Canadian Section of the International Joint Commission (IJC) today to join Commissioners and staff in celebrating the 90th anniversary of the signing of the Boundary Waters Treaty, the treaty under which the IJC was created. Prime Minister Chrétien, among other things, underlined the cooperative efforts by the United States and Canada to address their shared environmental concerns.

The Prime Minister saluted 90 years of achievements by the International Joint Commission and declared that: "...people take 4000 miles of shared boundary for granted but (...) it takes an organisation such as the IJC to prevent and resolve disputes over the use of shared waters between the two countries."

Commissioners also conveyed their congratulations to the Prime Minister, who also celebrates his birthday today. Chairman Legault from the Canadian section also added that: "The Boundary Waters Treaty is one of the great success stories of Canada-U.S. relations. The secret of that success lies in the fact that the treaty and the Commission are dedicated to the common good of both countries." On behalf of the American Section, Chairman Baldini said that: "Our two countries owe a great debt to those who framed the Boundary Waters Treaty. They had the tremendous vision that without genuine cooperation on the use of our shared waters, and on transboundary environmental issues, we could not live in harmony and prosper."

Representing President Clinton, Mary Ann Peters, Deputy Chief of Mission for the U.S. embassy in Ottawa, stated that: "Through its air quality monitoring and international watershed initiative, the Commission is already confronting future environmental challenges along the border."

The Boundary Waters Treaty, signed on January 11, 1909, established the IJC to prevent and resolve disputes over the use of shared waters and to provide independent advice on other transboundary environmental issues. The IJC has developed water quality objectives for, and monitored the restoration of the Great Lakes and other watersheds along the common boundary. It also oversees the operation of several hydropower projects that affect water levels and flows across the boundary and alerts the two countries to transboundary air quality issues of concern.

As competition for water resources intensifies around the globe, the Boundary Waters Treaty and the IJC provide a tested model of how two nations can peacefully share boundary waters in a mutually beneficial manner. The IJC is currently developing an international watershed approach as one of its initiatives to help Canada and the United States address the environmental challenges of the 21st Century.

More information about the Boundary Waters Treaty and the IJC can be found on the IJC's web site at: www.ijc.org.

Contacts: Washington, D.C.: Frank Bevacqua (202) 736-9024
Ottawa, ON: Fabien Lengellé (613) 995-0088

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