Cantwell Secures Commitment from Canadian Prime Minister to Move Forward with Columbia River Treaty Negotiations
Foreign minister commits to appointing chief negotiator
WASHINGTON, D.C. – At today’s State Department lunch with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) received commitments from the Prime Minister and 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 Senator Cantwell.
Today’s commitment comes after Senator 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 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. Senator 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 hydropower generation.
The commitment is an important step in beginning joint US-Canadian talks to modernize the treaty. 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.
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