For Canada, 2017 marks 150 years since Confederation. Celebrations are planned from coast to coast on July 1, Canada Day. Canadians are commemorating their history, culture, scientific achievements and more. And their neighbor to the south is joining the celebration by taking special note of the many ways in which our two countries demonstrate their friendship and multiple partnerships.
Among these binational partnerships, the IJC is one of the oldest and most stalwart. Created by the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909, an equal number of Canadian and US IJC Commissioners have sat at the same table for more than 100 years coming to consensus on issues important to both nations.
With the longest peaceful boundary in the world, the natural wonders shared by Canada and the US do not divide us. They unite us. Supported by IJC leadership, Canadians and Americans continue to stand hand-in-hand to protect and preserve the waters shared between our two countries. Those waters take in a transboundary region that winds its way across North America, from the Yukon-Alaska boundary through British Columbia and Washington state, the Rocky Mountains to the high plains, the Great Lakes, Quebec, New York, New Brunswick and Maine.
Like all friends, we sometimes have disagreements. But above all, there’s mutual respect, collaboration, and a commitment to moving forward with our mission: to prevent and resolve disputes between Canada and the United States and pursue the common good of both countries as an independent and objective adviser to the two governments.
The IJC has created more than 20 regional boards and task forces to meet its responsibilities, each with equal members from Canada and the US. Board members largely work as volunteers, coming with various government, public, academic, and First Nation, Métis and Tribal perspectives, but operating independently for the common benefit of users and interests in both countries. Beyond the Boundary Waters Treaty, our two countries have been supported by the IJC’s binational science expertise in forging seminal, globally recognized arrangements including the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and the Columbia River Treaty.
As US commissioners, we celebrate Canada 150 with our neighbors to the north. The Canada-US relationship is a model for the rest of the world. We share the longest international border on the planet, trade to the tune of more than US$1.8 billion a day in goods and services, and work closely together on environmental partnerships at the local, state and federal level.
Canadians have 150 reasons and more to be proud this year. As they say, here’s to another 150 years.
Chair of the US Section of the IJC, headquartered in Washington, D.C.