Recreation is commerce

To the Editor:
A new agreement between Canada and the U.S. is needed to properly consider recreation as commerce and to resolve issues on use of Ontario-Minnesota border waters.
The 1909 boundary waters treaty was designed to forever guarantee freedom of navigation on waters through which the international boundary passes. Forty five water bodies along the Canada-MN border qualify, including Rainy Lake, Lake of the Woods, and Rainy River.  
Canada and the U.S. have different interpretations of the agreement. The U.S. government’s position, determined by the American courts, does not properly recognize recreation as commerce.
Recreation is not mentioned in the treaty and wasn’t a significant use of the waters when the agreement was signed in 1909.
However, it’s hard to argue that recreation is not commerce. An entire industry on both sides of the border has been created around outdoor recreation. 
What is needed is a political solution that recognizes current uses and the needs of citizens and communities on both sides of the border. The new agreement should be specific to the Canada-Minnesota border, so as not to get linked to issues involving the Great Lakes and other regions.
Anything written into a bi-national agreement of this type will take precedence over federal and state law. For example, the passport issue with regard to border crossings on water, and the federal-state jurisdictional battle over water rights could both be satisfactorily resolved through such an arrangement.  
A workshop and dinner has been scheduled for Sept. 30 in International Falls to discuss this matter in detail. Citizens and officials from both sides of the border are encouraged to attend. 
For more information on the workshop, please contact me by phone at (218) 285-7002 or by e-mail at donparmeter@msn.com
 Don Parmeter
International Falls, Mn.

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