Ambassador Heyman’s Remarks at the International Joint Commission Reception

Ambassador Heyman speaking at the IJC Commissioners Reception in Ottawa. Credit US Embassy Ottawa.

9th Floor Reception Room, Global Affairs Canada, Ottawa
As prepared for delivery

Good evening and thank you for your kind introduction. I want to thank Minister Dion and the Commissioners of the International Joint Commission of Canada and the United States for hosting us this evening. I would also like to thank all of the participants in the IJC board meetings for their continued dedication.

The IJC’s work is at the heart of the U.S.-Canada relationship. Forty percent of our 8,891-kilometer border runs through lakes and rivers. We come together to find common solutions because we have the responsibility to work together toward the best use and protection of these resources.

For more than 100 years, the IJC has enabled the United States and Canadian governments to manage the levels and flows of our shared waters and has provided expert advice and guidance to help us find solutions that meet the needs of both countries.

The IJC is as important today as when it was established in 1909, as we continue to face a range of trans-boundary water challenges. The United States and Canada jointly contribute resources and expertise to support the IJC. People around the world look to the IJC organization as a model for how to work together.

The long, productive history of the IJC reflects the strength and continuity of institutions that guide our stewardship of natural resources. The IJC is a prime example of how closely we cooperate on these issues – our technical agencies, including all of you here tonight, work directly with one another on transboundary and boundary waters all across the country.

I’m pleased that we have been able to coordinate complex work in a number of watersheds, including in the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River seaway and Lake of the Woods.

We are taking concrete steps to identify measures to mitigate flooding and the impacts of flooding in the Lake Champlain and Richelieu River, following the devastating 2011 flooding in Vermont and Quebec. The U.S. and Canadian federal government have committed additional resources to allow for the IJC to improve its already impressive inundation maps, which would better inform communities about flood risks in the future.

The IJC also plays an important role in public outreach and raising awareness on water issues. Earlier this month, the IJC hosted a well- attended town hall meeting in conjunction with the Great Lakes Public Forum in Toronto. The event highlighted public concerns in the Great Lakes basin today and underscored the continued need for public dialogue and education.

Engaging the public in discussion of these shared resources is a key component to developing effective and useful water policies. We can only achieve our goals when we have public support.

Our relationship is based on a closely intertwined history, common values, and a vast network of cultural, familial, and commercial ties. We are neighbors who share a border. Rather than dividing us, that border facilitates our cooperation on many issues, and motivates us to keep expanding and enhancing our relationship.

We will have a new Administration taking office in the United States in January. I am confident that no matter who occupies the White House, the United States and Canada will remain engaged neighbors, prosperous partners, stalwart allies, and the best of friends.

Thank you again for inviting me to speak this evening. I hope that your meetings this week will be successful and productive. On behalf of the U.S. government, I thank you for your continued commitment to enhancing our bilateral relationship through your ongoing collaboration.

Good evening.