Yves-François Blanchet, Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks, represented the Québec government and Premier Marois at the Council of Great Lakes Governors 2013 Leadership Summit, held from May 31 to June 2 on Mackinac Island, Michigan.
The Great Lakes governors and premiers of Québec and Ontario adopted a series of resolutions during the Summit, in areas of shared interest such as water management, transportation and economic development:
The Great Lakes–St. Lawrence River navigation system generates over 227,000 jobs in Canada and the United States and $34.6 billion in business revenue. The participants launched a collaborative regional initiative and set up a timeline for completion.
At the initiative of Québec, the participants passed a resolution calling for the establishment of common rules so that projects funded by the U.S. federal government take into account the integration of the Canadian and American economies. For the first time, all parties are committed to work together to facilitate reciprocal access to government contracts.
The participants agreed on the importance of preventing the introduction of new species into the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Basin and of limiting the spread of existing aquatic invasive species. A list of “least wanted” species was prepared.
Yves-François Blanchet also took part in a meeting of the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence River Water Resources Regional Body, which administers a historic agreement on sustainable water resources. The Regional Body acknowledges that the waters of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin are interconnected, and that protection of this valuable collective resource requires close collaboration.
Yves-François Blanchet met with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and four governors (Pat Quinn of Illinois, Mike Pence of Indiana, Rick Snyder of Michigan and Scott Walker of Wisconsin).
Facts about the Great Lakes Region
The eight U.S. Great Lakes states, Ontario and Québec make up an economic space with a population of over 100 million. With a combined gross domestic product of $5000 trillion, this common market constitutes the world’s fourth largest economy.
The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River are a unique ecosystem containing close to 20% of the planet’s freshwater reserves. This explains the Leadership Summit participants’ strong consensus regarding their commitment to sustainable development as a driving force for economic growth.