Council chapters making waves on World Water DayOn March 22 – World Water Day –
Council of Canadians chapters will be
taking action to protect and promote
clean, safe, public water in communities
March 22 was designated World Water
Day in 1992 at the United Nations
Conference on Environment and Development
in Rio de Janeiro to raise awareness about the
importance of preserving global water resources.
Since then, communities, organizations and
activists around the world have come together
every year on the day to highlight water struggles
and the need for clean, accessible, public water for
Council chapters are actively involved in World Water
Day activities organizing at the local level to fight for
water justice. Chapters are fighting against lakes being
turned into dumpsites for mining waste and industrial
abuses of water resources such as the tar sands, the
privatization and corporatization of water services in
Canada and around the world, and the commodification
of water through water markets and bottled water.
We are getting the message out that Canada needs a
National Water Policy that recognizes water as a human
right and a public trust.
“World Water Day is a great day to raise awareness about
water issues in your community,” says Emma Lui,
National Water Campaigner for the Council of Canadians.
“Whether it’s speaking out against bottled water, lobbying
your local politicians to recognize water as a human right
and public trust, or educating your friends and neighbours
about what we can all do to protect water in our communities,
there are lots of ways to take action.”
For a full list of World Water Day activities happening in
communities across Canada, go here.
Take action on World Water Day: Help protect the
Great Lakes from radioactive waste shipments!On February 4, 2011, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) approved Bruce Power’s plan to ship 16 radioactive steam generators from Owen Sound to Sweden. Bruce Power applied for a special licence from the CNSC because the massive size of the steam generators and their high level of radioactivity violate national and international rules for transporting radioactive materials on fresh water. There has been widespread opposition to these shipments from First Nations communities, city mayors, U.S. senators, environmental groups, and social justice organizations because of the risk these shipments pose to the Great Lakes, which is a source of drinking water for more than 40 million people in Canada and the United States. Go here to say “no” to radioactive shipments on the Great Lakes.
Here’s more about what’s new at the Council of Canadians:
|"I am grateful to the Council for the education they provide me regarding each campaign and issue they bring to light. As sobering as this new information is, it is always presented thoughtfully and intelligently and I am thankful. Knowledge surely is power and knowledge shared is a gift." |
– Beth Arseneault, Bath, ON
Thousands join Council’s first-ever telephone townhallOn Sunday, February 27 the Council of Canadians welcomed more than 20,000 members and supporters from communities across Canada to our first “Telephone Town Hall” with National Chairperson Maude Barlow.
Town Hall participants joined in an interactive live conversation with Maude to share in stories about our “wins” over the last year, hear about exciting new Council campaigns, and talk about the way forward for social justice, fair trade, clean water and democracy in Canada. Our members were able to ask Maude questions about the current political moment, participate in live polling questions, and share their thoughts and comments with Council of Canadians’ staff.
“It is very important to us, as an organization, to keep our members informed how their generous support is making a difference, and to hear what they have to say,” said Jamian Logue, the Council’s Director of Development. “Members are the heart and soul of the Council of Canadians. To bring so many people together across the country who share a common passion and purpose was inspiring.”
Go here to hear an audio recording of our telephone town hall.
Don’t miss our next tele-town hall! Join or renew your membership today and make sure to provide your home phone number so you can be part of exciting upcoming town hall conversations with Maude.
Council board member tells Parliamentary committee NAFTA payout has privatized Canada’s waterTrade lawyer and Council of Canadians Board Member Steven Shrybman appeared before Parliament's international trade committee on March 8 to explain the Council's concerns with a recent $130-million NAFTA settlement with AbitibiBowater. He told committee members the settlement has effectively privatized Canada's water by allowing foreign investors to assert a proprietary claim to water permits, and even to water itself in its natural state.
In 2008, AbitibiBowater, a Canadian firm registered in the United States, closed its pulp and paper mill in Grand Falls-Windsor in Newfoundland and Labrador, leaving hundreds of people without jobs and without severance pay owed to them. The Newfoundland government passed legislation to re-appropriate timber and water use permits loaned to the firm on condition they be used for production in-province.
The company cried foul, but rather than come to an agreement with the province on severance pay and environmental remediation, AbibitiBowater used its U.S. registration status to file a NAFTA investment dispute against the province claiming it was owed $300 million for the assets, as well as the timber and water rights that were expropriated. It later increased that amount to $500 million.
The federal government could have fought and won the NAFTA challenge. Instead, the Harper government settled with the firm for $130 million – the most ever paid out by Canada to an investor under NAFTA's Chapter 11 investor-to-state dispute process. The settlement included an undisclosed amount for water and timber rights the firm cannot legally own under the Canadian Constitution, effectively creating a precedent for recognizing water as private property.
"It would be difficult to overstate the consequences of such a profound transformation of the right Canadian governments have always had to own and control public natural resources," said Mr. Shrybman in his presentation to committee, which is studying the AbitibiBowater NAFTA settlement.
"Moreover, by recognizing water as private property, the government has gone much further than any international arbitral tribunal has dared to go in recognizing a commercial claim to natural water resources."
To read our media release go here.
To read Shrybman's full presentation to the trade committee go here.
Neil speaks out about TMX takeoverGarry Neil, Executive Director of the Council of Canadians, called on the Ontario government to oppose the London Stock Exchange’s bid to take over the TMX Group at public hearings on the issue at Queen's
Park last week.
“This is really a takeover of the Toronto Stock Exchange by the LSE, since the London group will control the Board and the Chairman’s position,” said Neil. “This transaction is of no benefit to Ontario, it will bring risks for Canada’s financial stability and it will erode our ability to regulate financial markets in the public interest.”
He added that LSE's majority ownership and board representation on the merged company could ultimately lead to the adoption of U.K. securities regulations here.
To read our blog report, which includes Garry Neil’s statement at the hearing, go here.
Photo: Garry Neil
Pushing for safe, clean water for First Nations communitiesThe Council of Canadians is calling on federal Indian and Northern Affairs Minister John Duncan to scrap Bill S-11, the Safe Drinking Water For First Nations Act, and work with First Nations communities to find ways to address deplorable drinking water conditions on their lands.
In a submission to the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, the Council of Canadians stated that Bill S-11 does not stipulate funding commitments and funding roles for the three government departments responsible for water on First Nation reserves. It also gives the federal government the power to force the privatization of water delivery systems on the communities. And the Bill does not require consultations with First Nations.
The Assembly of First Nations, the Chiefs of Ontario and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs have all expressed grave concerns and opposition to the Bill.
Water is a human right, public trust and global commons. While legislation addressing safe drinking water is sorely needed, any bill on the matter should be developed alongside First Nations, include explicit funding commitments, and recognize the right of First Nations communities to build, own and operate their own water systems.
Write to Minister Duncan today and tell him Bill S-11 must be scrapped. Go here to send a letter now.
Council welcomes new Health Care Campaigner The Council of Canadians is infusing new energy into our campaign to protect public health care.
Leading the charge will be Adrienne Silnicki, the Council’s new Health Care Campaigner.
“Protecting and strengthening public health care is such a core Canadian value,” said Adrienne. “Our campaign will reinforce the work of our members, supporters and chapter activists who, like most Canadians, want our governments to strengthen and enhance our public health care system, not dismantle it.”
Adrienne is currently the chairperson and treasurer of the Council of Canadians' Halifax chapter and has worked as an Organizing Assistant in our Atlantic office since 2008. She has a Bachelor in Public Affairs and Policy Management from Carleton University, and is currently also a graduate student at Saint
Mary’s University. She has volunteer experience in health care and homelessness, and has interned in community health clinics in Misufini, Kenya and Cap Haitian, Haiti.
Council chapters take action against nuclear waste dumping and bottled water-taking permitCouncil of Canadians chapters are hard at work in communities across Canada organizing and acting for social justice. Recently, Council of Canadians chapters in Saskatchewan have been organizing against the plan for nuclear waste to be transported from southern Ontario and dumped in their province. Chapters are part of the Coalition for a Clean Green Saskatchewan, which is pushing for a nuclear waste ban in the province. As part of efforts to keep nuclear waste out of Saskatchewan, chapters and the coalition have organized speaking events with nuclear expert Dr. Jim Harding, author of Canada’s Deadly Secret, in Wynard, Prince Albert, Saskatoon and La Ronge.
In early March, Guelph, Ontario chapter members joined with Wellington Water Watchers and concerned community residents, marching to Nestle Waters’ Aberfoyle plant to show opposition to the bottler’s request for a 10-year, water-taking permit. The concerned water activists say Nestlé's extensive water-taking has been a drain on the local aquifer and is bad for the environment.
Chapters around the country continue to provide a strong voice on local, regional and national issues. Chapter members speak out against injustices and flawed policies and help to effect positive change in their communities. Whether it’s getting bottled water bans, fighting health care privatization, challenging politicians, or rallying in support of clean, safe, accessible drinking water, climate and trade justice and a strengthened public health care system – our chapters give true meaning to the words “citizens in action.”
Go here to join a chapter near you.
Photo: Council of Canadians chapter activists join a march against Nestlé.
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