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A great battle could be brewing over Great Lakes

Canada might seem to have plenty of water, but it appears there's not a drop to spare.

That's the growing sentiment by politicians about their abundant water resources as well as those in the United States around the Great Lakes.

They fear thirsty neighbors might try to someday siphon water away to meet their growing or unmanaged needs.

In fact, parched U.S. states could start "water wars" in the years ahead for access to Great Lakes resources, a water conference in Toronto was told.

"We will in fact get into major water wars," said Milton Clark of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"In the U.S., there are some leading politicians who have said the Great Lakes do in fact belong (to everyone) and all water should be nationalized — and this certainly is a concern," he added.

Ontario and Quebec have signed an agreement to ban bulk transfers of Great Lakes water and are waiting for four of the eight Great Lakes states and the U.S. Congress to agree.

Already in the pact are Minnesota, New York, Indiana and Illinois, with Wisconsin expected to follow soon. Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania have yet to agree.

Slowdown spurs

a rate reduction

Canada's central bank slashed interest rates for the second time in two months while expressing concern over a sluggish economy affected by the U.S. slowdown.

The Bank of Canada cut its key rate by 0.5 percent to 3 percent, while the commercial bank prime lending rate fell to 4.75 percent.

While not calling it a recession, the bank report presented a gloomy picture of the global, U.S. and Canadian economies — all struggling with ongoing turmoil in financial markets caused by the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis.

News in brief

• Prime Minister Stephen Harper says his Conservatives didn't violate spending rules in the last election. His comment followed a raid on the party's headquarters by the Elections Canada agency seeking documents to confirm spending practices.

• The Ontario government is considering a public inquiry into why Robert Baltovich, 42, of Toronto, was convicted of murdering his girlfriend, Elizabeth Bain, in 1990. He spent eight years in prison until an appeal, which led to a retrial Tuesday. Prosecutors said they didn't have a case against him and he was acquitted.

• Canada is trying to arrange a transfer home for Brenda Martin, 51, of Trenton, Ontario, who has been held in a Mexican jail for two years. She was found guilty Tuesday and sentenced to five years in prison over an Internet fraud run by her jailed former boss.

• Montreal police are using pictures taken by the public to make more arrests after a street riot when the Canadiens defeated the Boston Bruins in the first round of the NHL playoffs on Monday. Vandals torched and smashed 16 police cruisers and broke into businesses on Ste-Catherine Street.

Facts and figures

The lowering of Canada's key interest rate helped push the Canadian dollar lower to 98.27 cents U.S. A U.S. dollar returns $1.0176 Canadian, before bank exchanges fees.

The Bank of Canada interest rate is 3 percent while the prime lending rate is 4.75 percent.

Canadian stock markets are lower, with the Toronto Exchange index at 13,996 points and the TSX Venture Exchange at 2,479 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 12, 24, 25, 29, 41, 45; bonus 14. (April 19) 5, 27, 30, 32, 46, 49; bonus 9. Super 7: (April 18) 2, 9, 10, 12, 18, 43, 47; bonus 3.

Regional briefs

• Ontario and eastern Canada enjoyed spring sunshine and temperatures in the 60s and 70s as the West dug out from another bout of wintry weather. Up to 16 inches of snow fell in some parts of Alberta, while blizzards and freezing rain extended as far east as Manitoba.

• A fugitive British Columbia father wanted in the killing of his three children was captured in the woods near Merritt. Allan Schoenborn, 40, is being held on charges of first-degree murder in the deaths of Kaitlynne, 10, Max, 8, and Cordon, 5.

• Paul McCartney won't be in Halifax for an outdoor concert on Canada Day, July 1, after all. Promoter Harold MacKay said there isn't enough time to organize the concert at the Halifax Common, where the Rolling Stones played two years ago.

• Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said his government will ban the sale and cosmetic use of pesticides on lawns by next year because of health concerns. Golf courses, farmers and foresters will still be able to use pesticides, and the agents can be used to control virus-carrying mosquitoes.

Jim Fox can be reached at

A great battle could be brewing over Great Lakes 04/26/08 [Last modified: Saturday, April 26, 2008 7:09pm]
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