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The decommissioned cement carrier J.B. Ford sits docked at the Gavilon Grain LLC dock at the Port of Duluth-Superior in Superior, Wisconsin, Jan. 4, 2012. The International Joint Commission oversees water-quality issues and disputes concerning waters shared by Canada and the United States.Ariana Lindquist/Bloomberg

The federal government has appointed two former Conservative politicians to fill vacancies at the International Joint Commission, a key bilateral institution that oversees water that Canada shares with the United States.

Benoît Bouchard and Gordon Walker were each appointed to four-year terms, which began earlier this month. The Commission's current chair, Joseph Comuzzi, remains in that role until his term expires early next year, according to a government website on federal appointments.

The International Joint Commission was established by the U.S. and Canadian governments more than a century ago, and is responsible for preventing and managing water-related disputes. Earlier this spring, it released a report recommending that the two governments look into ways to slow down the flow of water in the St. Clair River in an effort to raise water levels in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

Canada and the U.S. are expected to appoint three commissioners each to the bilateral organization. The latest Canadian appointments were made one month after the government faced criticism from environmentalists for allowing two of the three seats to go vacant – including one position that was not filled for more than a year.

Mr. Bouchard is a former Progressive Conservative MP who served as a minister in former prime minister Brian Mulroney's government. He was Canada's ambassador to France for several years in the 1990s, and was appointed to the Transportation and Safety Board in 1996 by then-prime minister Jean Chrétien.

Mr. Walker is a former Progressive Conservative MPP for Ontario who previously served as on the International Joint Commission between 1992 and 1995.

The Commission will hold a series of public hearings next month on water levels in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.