Sixth Estate’s budget coverage continues; previous reports are on the MP pension reform scam and the removal of 30 of Canada’s 47 longest rivers from protected status as navigable waters.
As I noted previously, the Navigable Waters Act is being renamed the Navigation Protection Act and the environmental protection which the federal government once extended, basically, to any body of water you could paddle a canoe on is now being restricted to a special shortlist of 62 rivers and 97 lakes (plus the three oceans). In a country that has tens of thousands of rivers and lakes, obviously this is going to involve a great deal of environmental and legislative carnage. Last post, I noted that this removed the majority of Canada’s longest rivers from protection under the navigable waters law.
Today I’d like to do the same thing for lakes. According to Wikipedia, Canada has about 32,000 lakes “larger than three square kilometres” and 561 lakes “larger than 100″ square kilometres. The first list is obviously too long to go into here: it goes without saying that 97 out of 32,000 is not very impressive. (Plus there are some that are not that large yet still are protected: for instance, the Conservatives took special care to protect a small puddle in the middle of Ottawa called Dow’s Lake, which I can’t imagine is that large, though I could be wrong.) There’s not even any point working with the list of 561 lakes, since I can already tell you without looking that more than 85% of them can’t be on the list, mathematically speaking.
What we can do, though, is look at Natural Resources Canada’s list of lakes over 400 square kilometres — that is, the very largest lakes in Canada. From there, we can see that the federal government has failed to include three of B.C.’s five largest lakes (Babine, Atlin, and Ootsa); all of Alberta’s largest lakes; and, as with the rivers, has all but written off the northern territories as free and ungoverned.
For strict comparison purposes, I decided to shorten the list even further, to just those lakes over 1000 square kilometres. Only 15 of Canada’s 43 largest lakes — lakes over 1000 square kilometres — are now protected as navigable waters. Those that didnt’ make the cut include lakes Aberdeen, Bras D’Or, Lesser Slave, Lac la Ronge, Cree Lake, the Gouin Reservoir, Lac Seul, Lac Mistassini, and the Smallwood Reservoir, Lac Manicouagan, and the Robert Bourassa reservoir.Tweet