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Canada Needs a National Water Policy That Bans Bulk Water Exports

By       Message Dana Gabriel       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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There is little doubt that NAFTA has brought about the loss of Canadian sovereignty over its own resources and further threatens its water supply. Through the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), bulk water transfers are being discussed. The SPP is carrying on where NAFTA left off, and this includes the U.S. further gaining access to Canadian oil, gas, electricity, and water. The Montreal Economic Institute, which is a think tank, is now urging Canada to export its fresh water for financial gain. This will mortgage Canada's future for possible short-term benefits. A continental resource pact, which includes energy and water, is all part of deeper integration into a North American Union.

An internal report by Environment Canada was recently obtained through the Access to Information Act and it states that as Canadians, "We can no longer take our extensive water supplies for granted."- The report calls on the Canadian government to take a more hands-on approach in managing its water supplies. It also forecasts droughts in the prairies and ground water shortages in British Colombia. There are already signs of water shortages in the Great Lakes, and last September, Lake Superior fell to its lowest level on record. According to the report, one percent of Canada's water supply is renewed each year by precipitation, and only seven percent of its fresh water supply is renewable. Climate change as well as population growth will also further drain water resources. This report by Environment Canada parallels a National Resource Canada study that was released in the spring that forecasted more frequent droughts and severe floods, as well as declining water quality and quantity.

It is already well documented that under NAFTA, Canada cannot reduce its energy exports to the U.S., even in times of shortages. The fear is that once bulk water exports begin, they will be next to impossible to stop. With a potential water crisis on the horizon, Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians said, "The Harper government has bought the myth of limitless abundance, which this report on looming water scarcity in Canada indicates is clearly not true."- Canada desperately needs a water strategy and policy that bans bulk water exports and protects Canadian sovereignty over its resources, therefore putting its own future needs ahead of others.

According to NAFTA, bulk water is recognized as a "good."- It was about 10 years ago that the American company Sun Belt Water Inc. sued the Canadian federal government under NAFTA's Chapter 11 because the province of British Colombia banned water exports that would have gone to California. NDP Trade Critic Peter Julian said, "As a foreign investor, all you need to do is apply for a permit. You'll either get to export water, or you can sue for compensation."-

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In April of last year, the North American Future 2025 Project met and discussed water transfers, consumption, and artificial diversions. Leaked documents show that the Canadian government, along with business elites, are actively discussing and further pursuing bulk water transfers to the United States. Through the SPP, the North American Competitiveness Council is pushing Alberta tar sands development. It takes 3 barrels of fresh water to produce one barrel of oil from the tar sands, and future projects will put a further strain on water supplies. Many believe that Alberta cannot handle any more tar sands expansion without severe consequences to the environment.

A poll commissioned by the Council of Canadians back in April showed that 88 percent of Canadians want a comprehensive national water policy that bans bulk water exports of fresh water. The Harper government has failed to deliver a national water strategy, and like previous governments, has shown a lack of leadership and concern in protecting its nation's water supplies. Forget about renegotiating, get out of NAFTA- it is so badly flawed. At the same time get rid of the SPP, which would be another stake in the heart for plans to create a North American Union. Failure to do so could result in Canada becoming nothing more than a resource colony.


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Dana Gabriel is an activist and independent researcher. He writes about trade, globalization, sovereignty, security, as well as other issues.

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