Expedition of Action...500km Paddle To Parliament

Friday, 30 May 2008
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A group of volunteer paddling enthusiasts are beginning an 8-day "Paddle to Parliament" paddle trip starting on May 31, 2008 in Laniel, Quebec on the Kipawa River and finishing on June 8, 2008 on the Ottawa River at Parliament Hill to raise awareness about proposed changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act (NWPA) that will severely curtail navigation rights on Canadian rivers.
Ottawa, ON, May 29, 2008 - A group of volunteer paddling enthusiasts are beginning an 8-day "Paddle to Parliament" paddle trip starting on May 31, 2008 in Laniel, Quebec on the Kipawa River and finishing on June 8, 2008 on the Ottawa River at Parliament Hill to raise awareness about proposed changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act (NWPA) that will severely curtail navigation rights on Canadian rivers.

"This volunteer group of paddlers is taking in part in this event because they are passionate about protecting the rights of all Canadians and visitors to our Country to be able to freely navigate our waterways," said Jim Coffey, Owner/Operator of Esprit, a Pontiac County based eco-adventure travel company . "We are doing this Paddle to Parliament in the hope that all Canadians will sit up and take notice of these proposed legislative changes that could forever alter their way of life - be they avid whitewater paddlers, weekend canoeists or families who enjoy spending time together on the river at the cottage."

The NWPA was one of the first nationally significant pieces of legislation passed in this country. Enacted when Sir John A. MacDonald was the Prime Minister, the NWPA guaranteed navigation of rivers as a common law public right. In fact, the public right of navigation pre-dates Confederation. The proposed changes to the NWPA would remove consideration for the environmental impact of loss of navigation for any projects involving minor waters, minor works, dams, bridges, causeways and booms. These proposed changes would allow developers to alter certain water courses without the need for an environmental assessment. As well, it would remove the public right to be consulted on development projects that have a direct environmental impact on navigation.

"Canada was discovered, explored and developed through the act of navigation," said Doug Skeggs, Director of River Protection, Les Amis de la Rivière Kipawa. "Navigation is part of what it means to be Canadian. It's part of our heritage and part of who we are as a people and a nation. These proposed changes to the NWPA will gut this important 125-year-old piece of legislation, erase our heritage right of navigation and will have a serious impact on the environment in Canada."

The Paddle to Parliament will have four paddlers on the route at all times. People are invited to join in along the route as the paddlers make their way from the Kipawa River in Northern Quebec, 500 km down the Quebec-Ontario boundary on the Ottawa River, through the Ottawa Valley to Parliament Hill. Paddle to Parliament has been organized by Les Amis de la Rivière Kipawa, a non-profit group whose mission it is to protect the Kipawa River, and by Esprit, a Pontiac-based whitewater rafting, canoeing and kayaking company that is taking a leadership role in environmental initiatives.

The expedition will culminate with a Vigil for Rivers on Parliament Hill, Sunday, June 8, 2008 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. to celebrate National Rivers Day in Canada.

About Les Amis de la Rivière Kipawa
Les Amis de la Rivière Kipawa was formed June 22, 1998 in Laniel Quebec in response to a proposal from Hydro-Québec to divert the 16-km section of the Kipawa River from Lake Kipawa at Laniel Québec to Lake Temiscaming, through its proposed new Tabaret generating station. The mission of Les Amis de la Rivière Kipawa, a registered non-profit organization run entirely by volunteers, is to protect and promote the ecological and recreational values of the Laniel-to-Lake-Temiscaming section of the Kipawa River. Over the years, Les Amis has become recognized as a legitimate stakeholder concerning issues affecting the Kipawa River and watershed. For more information on Les Amis visit our website: www.kipawariver.ca.

Les Amis is currently involved in a legal dispute with federal government on navigation rights on the Kipawa River. The case, which is currently in the Federal Court of Appeals, could end up being a very significant landmark case on navigation rights in Canada.

About Esprit
ESPRIT is owned and operated by international adventure travel guides Jim and Erin Coffey.  Since 1984, they have been leading expeditions, training guides and teaching rafting, canoeing, kayaking, first aid, river rescue and ecological awareness throughout Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, Africa, Asia and Australia. ESPRIT has assumed a leadership role in environmental responsibility, and is a very active promoting sustainability and river advocacy. ESPRIT has recently been recognized by National Geographic Adventure Magazine as the overall Second Best Outfitter on Earth, the World's Number 1 Rated Whitewater Company and a world leader in sustainable tourism. http://atr.nationalgeographic.com/outfitters/searchMain.action

For more information, please visit the website at www.whitewater.ca.

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For Media inquiries, please contact:

Doug Skeggs
Director of River Protection
Les Amis de la Rivière Kipawa
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(613) 732-5698 (office)
(613) 635-4699 (home)

Jim Coffey
Owner/Operator Esprit Whitewater Worldwide
Davidson Quebec
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(819) 683-3241 office
(613) 639-5224 cell
David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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