The International Joint Commission (IJC) would like to recognize in remembrance former Canadian Chair of the IJC, The Honourable Joseph Robert Comuzzi, who died on December 31, 2021. He served as Chair from January 2010 until January of 2014.
“Joe”, as he was insistent everyone call him, is fondly remembered by IJC staff who worked with him as having “a larger-than-life” presence, providing spur of the moment bear hugs, and was always full of constant surprises. Former staff also recall that he was always very hospitable at informal Commission gatherings.
As Canadian Chair he strongly advocated for greater involvement of Indigenous People in the Commission’s work, championing whenever he could for their greater engagement in public meetings and hearings, and advocating for the inclusion of First Nations, U.S. Tribes and Métis on both the Great Lakes Water Quality Board, as reconstituted under the 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and on the International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Board in 2013.
“Joe was above all interested in IJC impacts on people – and was always ready to meet and listen to anyone with views on Commission work and its effects.” - Christopher Wilkie, Canadian Secretary, IJC
During his term, work was completed on several IJC studies including, governance on Lake of the Woods and Rainy River (2012) and water quality on Lake of the Woods (2014) as well as the Lake Erie Nutrient Management report
In 2013 Chair Comuzzi was one of the five Commissioners who signed the majority report “Advice to Governments on the Recommendations of the International Upper Great Lakes Study” (2013) and the 2013 Lake Superior regulation Order.
He also had an interesting personal historical connection to the IJC, as he often noted he was related to Thomas Chase Casgrain, who was the first Canadian Chair of the Commission appointed in 1911.
Comuzzi was appointed to the Commission by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2010 after retiring from politics in 2008, following being expelled from the Liberal Caucus in 2007, and shortly thereafter joining the minority Conservative government.
Prior to his time at the IJC, Chair Comuzzi served in the Canadian Parliament as the Member from Thunder Bay - Superior North from 1988 to 2008, elected as Liberal. He served as the junior minister responsible for federal economic development in northern Ontario from 2003 until 2007.
The family requests charitable donations in his memory be made to support the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC) Palliative Care Team, through the TBRHS Foundation.