Canada’s Chief Negotiator for the Columbia River Treaty

Sylvain Fabi (BBA, Bishop’s University, 1988) joined the Consulate General of Canada in Denver in October 2020. As Canada’s Consul General in the U.S. Mountain West Region, Mr. Fabi oversees a team of 17 people who work within Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Utah and Wyoming to strengthen trade and economic ties; enhance political, academic and cultural links; and assist Canadians visiting or living in the five-state territory.  He is also Canada’s chief negotiator for the modernization of the Columbia River Treaty with the United States.

Mr. Fabi joined the Trade Commissioner Service of External Affairs and International Trade Canada in 1992.  He worked in various geographic and trade policy divisions in Ottawa.  He was senior departmental adviser to the Minister of International Trade (2009 to 2010), Director for bilateral relations with South America and the Caribbean (2010 to 2013) and Executive Director of the North America Policy and Relations Division (2013 to 2015).

Mr. Fabi’s assignments abroad include trade commissioner at the embassy in Moscow (1995 to 1998), commercial counsellor at the embassy in Havana (2001 to 2005) and commercial counsellor at the embassy in Santiago (2005 to 2009). Mr. Fabi served as High Commissioner for Canada in Jamaica and the Bahamas (2015 to 2017). Before becoming Consul General in Denver, he was Executive Director, U.S. Transboundary Affairs Division (2017 to 2020).

Mr. Fabi is married to Jany Joyal and has two children, Frédéric and Isabelle.

Sylvain Fabi (B.A.A., Université Bishop’s, 1988) s’est joint au consulat général du Canada à Denver en Octobre 2020. À titre de consul général du Canada, M. Fabi supervise une équipe de 17 personnes travaillant au Colorado, au Kansas, au Montana, en Utah et au Wyoming, en vue de renforcer les liens commerciaux et économiques, d’accroître les collaborations politiques, universitaires et culturelles, et d’aider les Canadiens qui vivent ou qui voyagent dans les cinq États de la région. Il est également le négociateur en chef du Canada pour la modernisation du Traité du fleuve Columbia avec les États-Unis.

M. Fabi s’est joint à Affaires extérieures et Commerce extérieur Canada en 1992. Il a travaillé dans différentes divisions géographiques et de la politique commerciale à Ottawa. Il a été conseiller ministériel principal auprès du ministre du Commerce international (en 2009 et 2010), directeur des relations bilatérales avec l’Amérique du Sud et les Caraïbes (de 2010 à 2013) et directeur exécutif de la Direction des politiques et des relations avec l’Amérique du Nord (de 2013 à 2015).

À l’étranger, M. Fabi a été affecté au poste de délégué commercial à l’ambassade à Moscou (1995 à 1998), de conseiller commercial à l’ambassade à La Havane (2001 à 2005) et de conseiller commercial à l’ambassade à Santiago (2005 à 2009). En outre, M. Fabi a occupé le poste de haut-commissaire en Jamaïque et aux Bahamas (de 2015 à 2017). Avant de devenir consul général à Denver, il a été directeur exécutif de la Direction des Affaires transfrontalières avec les États-Unis (de 2017 à 2020).

Fabi est marié à Jany Joyal et il a deux enfants, Frédéric and Isabelle.


B.C.’s lead on the Canadian Columbia River Treaty negotiation delegation

Kathy Eichenberger is the Executive Director, Columbia River Treaty, Electricity and Alternative Energy Division, B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. Since October 2011, she has been responsible for leading all aspects of the Columbia River Treaty review, including technical, legal, environmental and economic studies, as well as Indigenous and public engagement.  Kathy also leads a provincial team that prepares for and supports negotiations with Canada and the United States, and is the B.C. lead on the Canadian negotiation delegation.

From 2007 to 2011, Kathy was Executive Director, Environmental Assessment Office. Her role was to lead the assessment of major projects throughout the province to determine environmental, social and economic impacts; benefits of proposed projects in the energy, water management and mining sectors; and make recommendations on whether projects should be granted provincial approval.

Previous to her position in the Environmental Assessment Office, Kathy worked for 10 years in the Ministry of Environment, Kootenay and Okanagan regions, starting as Hydraulic Engineer for watershed restoration programs and flood response, to Regional Director, Environmental Protection, in charge of air and water quality monitoring, industrial and municipal waste management, contaminated sites, pesticide regulation, and regional flood response. Living in the Canadian Columbia Basin has given Kathy a deep understanding and appreciation of issues connected to the Columbia River, as well as longstanding relationships with communities, agencies and local governments in the region that have positively contributed to the provincial Columbia River Treaty review.


Agencies Represented on the Canadian Columbia River Treaty Negotiating Team


Global Affairs Canada:  is responsible for transboundary treaties and leads the Columbia River Treaty negotiations.  The federal government supported British Columbia’s lead procedural role in the 2012-2014 Treaty Review; however, each government will have its own decision-making process prior to an agreement being reached with the U.S.


The Province of B.C.:  represents the interests of British Columbians.  The Canadian-British Columbia Agreement (1963) transferred most Treaty benefits and obligations to the Province.  Although this agreement retains Canada’s constitutional jurisdiction for international treaties, it requires Canada to obtain agreement of the Province before terminating or amending the Treaty.


Canadian Columbia Basin Indigenous Nations:  On April 24, 2019, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, then Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, announced that representatives of the Ktunaxa, Secwepemc, and Syilx/Okanagan Nations would participate as observers at the Canada-U.S. Columbia River Treaty negotiations.  Since then, representatives of the Ktunaxa, Secwepemc, and Syilx/Okanagan Nations have been present in the negotiating room and full participants in caucus meetings with Canada and B.C. during negotiating sessions.  The Indigenous Nations are also partners with Canada and B.C. in developing negotiations positions and proposals, in preparatory meetings before each round of negotiations, and in debrief meetings after each round.


BC Hydro:  is the Canadian Entity responsible for the implementation of the Columbia River Treaty and the operator of the Treaty dams in Canada.  BC Hydro works closely with the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation’s Columbia River Treaty Team and provides technical support to the Canadian negotiation delegation.


Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC):  supports and advises Global Affairs Canada and the negotiation team on Canadian ecosystem and climate change issues.  ECCC engineers and scientists provide technical expertise in support of the negotiations and other Treaty work in the Columbia Basin.