MP Gallant inspecting the extent of the Ottawa River flooding in Horton.

Why are Trudeau Liberals Aiming for Annual Flooding of the Ottawa River?

New rules are coming that will make flooding on the Ottawa River a regular occurrence.

Legislation now before the Senate, shoved through the elected House of Commons without proper debate, will prevent dam operators on the Ottawa River from protecting property owners from flooding.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG), looked at its generation portfolio on hydro power, and determined that it “would take an 80 per cent instantaneous passage of flow as a principle for meeting the objectives of the new definition of fish habitat in Bill C-68.”

Ontario Power Generation modelled one of the outcomes of the legislative changes contained in Bill C-68. OPG testified before Parliament that had the new rules been in place during this year’s flooding:

“We had the capacity to hold water on the watershed with our water management plans. We have detailed some impacts. One of the outcomes was that the city of Montreal would have been under a metre more of water if we had not had the ability to store water on the watershed because of flooding in the Great Lakes.”

What little authorities can do to control the Ottawa River levels will be removed by Bill C-68.

In expert testimony from Anne-Raphaëlle Audouin, President, WaterPower Canada and the Canadian Electricity Association, the Senate Committee reviewing C-68 was told, “If Bill C-68 is passed in its current form, its impact on our industry’s ability to operate its current stations and build new ones will be catastrophic.”

Many laws regulate water and water use. The Fisheries Act remains the only Federal legislation that directly addresses the protection and conservation of fish and fish habitat. Enacted in 1868, the Act is one of Canada’s oldest pieces of legislation.

The Fisheries Act has a significant scope of application to a wide variety of undertakings that directly or indirectly involve water, ranging from hydroelectric projects to wetland use and fish habitat management.

The Fisheries Act has a significant scope of application to a wide variety of undertakings that directly or indirectly involve water, ranging from hydroelectric projects to wetland use and fish habitat management.

Bill C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence greatly expands the power and reach of government by an expanded definition of “habitat” that, for the first time, explicitly includes the concept of water flow.

The inclusion of water flow suggests that habitat may be harmfully altered, for the purposes of the Act, even by temporary alteration or impairment of water flow in any water body where fish are known to exist. This is true whether or not that water body is natural or artificial.

The Federal Government may not control the weather, but it can certainly refrain from making flooding worse. More misguided Liberal policy will add to the suffering property owners face with annual flooded properties.