OTTAWA – The Experimental Lakes Area in Kenora has been in the news a long. Kenora MP Greg Rickford has been on the receiving end of a lot of flack for the handling of the transition of the ELA. Today in the House of Commons, Rickford spoke out on the ELA.
“Today, I am pleased to announce that the Federal Government and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding as a first step in the transfer of the Experimental Lakes Area. This agreement is a major milestone in the transition of the Experimental Lakes Area to a third party operator and is the result of seven months of confidential negotiations between the Federal Government and IISD. Our Government has always maintained the importance of transferring this unique, world-class facility to a third party operator better suited to manage the ELA and we are very pleased to announce this agreement today,” said Rickford.
“I understand how important this issue was and is to the constituents of the Kenora riding. Many viewpoints have been brought forward over the past year and I appreciate the letters and feedback I have received both personally and in my offices. Over the past year, I have been monitoring the negotiations and working with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and it was vital that we protect the integrity of the confidentiality agreement,” continued Rickford. “However, during that time, our Government has worked diligently to facilitate this process by contracting a consultant to develop a Business Plan, facilitating connections with potential strategic partners, developing remediation plans to ensure that the facilities are in suitable condition for a new operator and facilitating the engagement of Ontario with IISD”.
Susan McLeod, Executive Director of the Lake of the Woods District Property Owners Association commented, “We are extremely pleased to see real, and now public, progress in the negotiations between the federal government and the IISD regarding the Experimental Lakes Area. We worked hard over the past year to support the ELA, and it’s gratifying to see it pay off. With all the challenges, Greg Rickford’s door was always open to us as we brought our ongoing concern to his attention. He must have been proud to stand up in the House today with this announcement.”
Kenora MPP Sarah Campbell Outspoken
Rickford contends, “We understand that there is still work to be done in this process and our Government is committed to ensuring a smooth transition of the facility to the IISD by addressing past and ongoing responsibilities, remediation of the site, the transfer of material assets needed to operate the site, operational support, data sharing and other matters”.
Sources in Ottawa contend that the Conservatives were working on a transition for the ELA, and in the process were bound by confidentiality agreements. Those agreements kept the Conservative MP or Government from speaking out as the controversy over the ELA grew this weekend. Those contentions appear to be backed by by Campbell when she addressed
Ministe Laurel C. Broten responded “I can tell the member that what the Premier said was to indicate that Ontario is prepared to step up to ensure that the Experimental Lakes continue. As I said in the previous answer, and I suspect that if she reads the transcripts she will see that, we are working with the federal government, who control access to the site at this point in time. We’re working with the province of Manitoba and we are working with IISD to ensure both a short-term and a long-term plan for the Experimental Lakes. We understand fully—and we have been working to ensure that all parties, including the federal government, understand—the scientists’ concerns and our government’s desire for the research to continue as planned, this year and into the future. We’re actively engaged on this file, and I think all Ontarians should be proud of the fact that our government has stepped up to protect the Experimental Lakes”.
“What this means is that Fisheries and Oceans Canada will conduct a sampling program over the summer of 2013 to maintain important scientific research and ensure that long-term data sets can continue uninterrupted,” added Rickford. “The Department will work with scientists who have active research at the Experimental Lakes Area to support their needs for the upcoming summer research season, including monitoring activities and requirements to access their equipment,” concluded the Minister.
Rickford is saluting the effort of the Conservative Government
“It is a testament to the work by our Government that such a reputable company has come forward and expressed interest in becoming the new operator for this facility. IISD is a Manitoba-based internationally-renowned public policy research institute for sustainable development, for which it champions around the world through innovation, partnerships, research and communications.
“IISD will continue discussions the Province of Ontario on an agreement to operate the site going forward. Both Fisheries and Oceans Canada and IISD are committed to ensuring that these discussions are successful.”