At last week’s State Department lunch with
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry,
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) says she received commitments from the Prime
Minister and Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs to move forward with talks on
modernization of the Columbia River Treaty.
Specifically, Trudeau confirmed the need for
US-Canadian talks and committed to focusing on appointing a negotiating team.
Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion also committed to moving talks forward.
The United States appointed Brian Doherty as
the U.S. Chief Negotiator for the Columbia River Treaty in 2015.
“Prime Minister Trudeau, Foreign Minister
Dion, and I had a positive discussion today. The Canadian leaders agreed to
move forward and appoint a chief negotiator to begin treaty talks. Modernizing
this treaty would benefit Americans and Canadians along the Columbia River
across the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia,” said Cantwell.
The commitment comes after Cantwell sent a
letter urging the Prime Minister to prioritize U.S.-Canadian negations of the
Columbia River Treaty to address current climate challenges.
Ratified in 1964, new modernized treaty, said
Cantwell, “will also allow the US and Canada work on critical clean energy
solutions such as smart grid with intermittent power, grid-scale storage and
clean infrastructure solutions.”
Cantwell supports the U.S. negotiating
position based on the Regional Recommendation to modernize the Treaty,
balancing ecosystem function including salmon recovery, flood control and
The commitment is an important step in
beginning joint US-Canadian talks to modernize the treaty, said Cantwell.
The Columbia River Treaty has no specific end
date, and most of its provisions would continue indefinitely without action by
the United States or Canada. However, the Treaty states either the United
States or Canada can terminate most of its provisions beginning September 2024,
with a minimum 10 years written notice.
Cantwell has been a leader in pressing for the
modernization of the treaty. Last year, she sent a letter to President Obama
with 25 other members of the Pacific Northwest Congressional delegation, urging
the Administration to move forward with a strategy for addressing the treaty.
The Revelstoke Times Review reported that a
spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed the news, writing
in an e-mail that "progress towards establishing a negotiating team was
made" during Trudeau's visit to Washington last week.
"The Government of Canada has been and
will continue working closely with the Government of British Columbia to
prepare for discussions with the United States on the future of the
Treaty," wrote Joseph Pickerill.
The Times-Review reported that discussions “so
far have surrounded the compensation B.C. should receive for providing flood
control and adding environmental considerations to the treaty. First Nations on
both sides of the border are pushing to restore the Columbia River salmon run
as part of the treaty.
“So far, Ottawa has largely left discussions
in the hands of the B.C. government. Bill Bennett, the MLA for Kootenay East
and the Minister of Energy & Mines, said they are still waiting to hear
Ottawa's position on the treaty, as well as that of the American government,
who so far have not indicated whether or not they want to re-negotiate.”
Bennett, according to the Times-Review, said
he expects Ottawa to take the lead on negotiations, "with B.C. right at
their elbow providing information and perspective."
-- CBB, March 11, 2016, “Cantwell Urges
Canadian Prime Minister To Start Talks On Columbia River Treaty; Murray Quizzes