Improving the Air for Canadians and Americans

By Anderson, David | Canadian Speeches, September-October 2003 | Go to article overview

Improving the Air for Canadians and Americans


Anderson, David, Canadian Speeches


Air pollution knows no boundaries. Acid rain, smog and greenhouse gases drift back and forth between Canada and the United States, compelling close co-operation to improve the air with breath. The latest joint initiatives are outlined. Speech delivered at the Canadian Embassy, Washington, June 23, 2003.

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I would like to welcome Governor [Christine Todd] Whitman [Administor of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and former governor of New Jersey] to the Canadian Embassy, and to thank her for her support on a wide range of environmental issues over the last two years.

Governor, because of the relationship that we have enjoyed, Canada and the United States have made significant progress on many files, including clean air.

Under your watch, the United States has also signed an agreement with Mexico on environmental co-operation. I congratulate you on your commitment to working co-operatively with your neighbours to provide health and environmental benefits to residents of Canada, the United States and Mexico.

I am pleased that Governor Whitman has joined me for one last joint announcement, as Canada and the United States embark on new initiatives for clean air cooperation across the border.

Today, we are announcing three major pilot projects that will help pave the way for future reductions in smog and improve health in both countries. These projects are under the Border Air Quality Strategy announced by Governor Whitman and myself this past January.

The joint actions we are undertaking build on decades of environmental cooperation between Canada and the United States. This co-operation is essential because air pollution does not respect international borders. The health benefits from cleaner air will only come through co operation and action among governments, business and individuals.

I can point with pride, as can Governor Whitman, to the achievements of earlier cross-border initiatives that are reducing acid rain and smog causing pollutants.

The three pilot projects we are announcing today will pave the way for further reductions in smog pollutants, especially in southern Ontario and southern British Columbia.

The first project, the Georgia Basin-Puget Sound International Airshed Strategy, is an initiative by Environment Canada, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the governments of British Columbia, and of the state of Washington, First Nations and communities in the region to ensure that transboundary air quality on the west coast is protected.

The Lower Fraser Valley of British Columbia, in particular, is already seeing the impacts on air quality of rapid population growth, industrial development, motor vehicle emissions and agricultural activity on both sides of the border. Residents of British Columbia are increasingly concerned about air quality and its link to human and environmental health, and the potential for air quality impacts on tourism has been documented.

Through the Georgia Basin-Puget Sound International Airshed Strategy, we will identify and implement measures to reduce air emissions and address transboundary air pollution. An international study is currently underway to characterize fine particulate matter and other pollutants to provide information for the International Airshed Strategy. Joint work on airshed science and emission inventories is crucial to setting further reduction targets and reducing air pollution.

The Government of Canada is also committing to work with the United States on regional airshed management within the Great Lakes Basin, beginning with the southeastern Michigan-Southwestern Ontario Region.

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