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Manitoba wants Ottawa to reverse its decision on water research project

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The Manitoba government is deeply disturbed by federal government cuts that will shut down a world-class water research project near Kenora.

Conservation Minister Gord Mackintosh said Friday morning his staff have already begun to lobby Ottawa to reverse the decision.

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Cuts and layoffs at Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced Thursday will kill the Experimental Lakes Area, a 44-year-old program covering 58 small lakes that scientists use to conduct real-world experiments on entire ecosystems.

Research done there has dramatically altered environmental policy across North America, leading to changes in hydro development, a ban on phosphorus in detergent, action on acid rain and most recently tough new mercury emissions rules for American coal-fired power plants.

Canadians scientists, including several eminent ones, have roundly condemned the decision to kill the ELA.

"We’re profoundly concerned about this cut," said Mackintosh Friday morning. "The ELA has incubated some of the world’s greatest research on water and helped create some of the world’s leading scientists."

Mackintosh said he’s already advised Ottawa of the province’s opposition to the decision.

And, discussion have already begun with Ontario on how the province’s might work together to save the ELA.

Ottawa has suggested provincial governments or universities could step in an fund the ELA, though scientists say that’s not a workable solution.

Mackintosh said his first hope is to rally Ontario, the scientific community and any other interested parties together to convince Ottawa to save the ELA.

"We won’t even talk about Plan B at this point," said Mackintosh.

 

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