<!--Mark Scheer--><table width="234" border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" background="http://static.cnhi.zope.net/flashpromo/niagaragazette/images/byline_234x60.jpg" height="60"><tr><td><div align="center"><font size="3" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">By Mark Scheer</font><font face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"><br /></font><font size="1" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"><a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a></font></div></td></tr></table>
The celebration of a historic boundary waters agreement between the United States and Canada received a high-profile visitor on Saturday.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took part in an event on the Rainbow Bridge to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Boundary Waters Treaty.
During the ceremony, Clinton and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon announced plans for the two countries to renegotiate the Great Lakes Quality Agreement, a pact signed by both countries in 1972.
Both Clinton and Cannon agreed the United States and Canada should work together to strengthen the Great Lakes agreement by updating it to reflect new concerns, including climate change and invasive species. The deal was last updated in 1987 and environmentalists have been pushing for it to be revised in light of new threats to the Great Lakes.
“The Great Lakes-St. River system is a treasure,” Clinton said. “It contains one-fifth of the world’s fresh surface water. It provides millions of people with safe drinking water every day. So it’s crucial that we honor the terms of the Great Lakes Agreement as it stands today, but we also have to update it to reflect new knowledge, new technology and, unfortunately, new threats.”
Clinton’s visit, her first to Western New York since she resigned her U.S. Senate seat to join President Obama’s administration, comes as both countries are celebrating the 1909 signing of the Boundary Waters Treaty, which is commonly regarded as the world’s first environmental treaty and a model of bi-national governance. The treaty created the Independent Joint Commission, which consists of U.S. and Canadian appointees who work to prevent and resolve boundary waters disputes between the two countries. It covers lakes, rivers, estuaries and inlets comprising 40 percent of the 5,500-mile international border between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Clinton credited those involved in the development of the treaty for having the vision to recognize the need for both countries to be good stewards of those precious resources. She noted the treaty has established a greater sense of cooperation between both countries.
“I just want to recognize the significance of this extraordinary moment in time,” Clinton said. “The friendship between the
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people of the United States and Canada is the strongest in the world. There is no border that is longer and more peaceful; there is no greater trade between two nations. There are so many values that we share in common, and today we celebrate a treaty that helped to make this friendship possible 100 years ago.”
During the ceremony, Clinton also called for both countries to recommit to strengthening their partnership in other areas, including commerce, citizen safety and defense.
“Our soldiers are serving shoulder-to-shoulder in Afghanistan,” she said. “And we share a commitment to promoting democracy, good governance and human rights worldwide. So our comprehensive alliance in the 21st century will move us even closer together as we collaborate to improve conditions not only in our own countries, but across the world.”
Mayor Paul Dyster said Saturday’s ceremony and other events tied the Boundary Waters centennial celebration serve as a reminder of the spirit of cooperation that has existed between the two countries for the past 100 years and demonstrates how important it will be for the United States and Canada to remain partners in the future.
“We who live our lives every day in sight of the border and of this great Niagara River must be especially careful never to take for granted the things that are most precious to us: the abundance of fresh water with which we have been blessed; the clean, renewable energy that it allows us to produce; and the love and friendship of our neighbors across the river,” Dyster said.
Ted Salci, mayor of Niagara Falls, Ontario, said the treaty and the International Joint Commission it created should serve as examples of the strong and respectful bond between both countries.
“What better backdrop for this impressive celebration than the shared beauty and majesty of flowing water over the Canadian and American falls,” he said. “One river feeding two magnificent falls coming together again in the river below, once again becoming our shared waters.”
Saturday evening featured several events tied to the ongoing Boundary Waters celebration, including free concerts at Terrapin Point at Niagara Falls State Park, a free outdoor concert at the Hard Rock Cafe and a fireworks display.
Contact reporter Mark Scheer at 282-2311, ext. 2250.