By Meera Karunananthan and Aine O'Connor
On this day five years ago, the United Nations formally recognized the human right to water and sanitation by passing resolution 64/292. Social movements who campaigned for it saw the human right to water and sanitation as a tool in the fight against a global water crisis produced by abuse of the water commons, inequality and social exclusion.
In this final week of Intergovernmental Negotiations on the ‘Post 2015 Development Agenda’, the NGO Mining Working Group and the Blue Planet Project marked the occasion by making a final push to have UN Member States ensure the human right to water and sanitation is explicitly and fully named in the process outcome document.
“We are determined to protect this land for future generations, and in the process do our bit to shut down the toxic fossil fuel infrastructure that threatens all forms of living life on this planet.” - Unist’ot’en camp
I recently returned from the 6th Annual Unist’ot’en Camp where a diversity of people came together to participate in and conduct workshops, continue the construction of the Healing Centre, and discuss how we could lend solidarity to the Unist’ot’en people fighting numerous oil and gas pipelines on their territory.
In B.C., public and media attention has been focused on water pricing and Nestlé’s water takings. In February, the B.C. government released water rates which ranged from $0.02 to $2.25. The rates, which take effect January 1, 2016 when the new Water Sustainability Act comes into force, are the lowest across any of the provinces in Canada.
There has been an overwhelming amount of public backlash against the low rates, particularly with Nestlé only being required to pay $2.25 per million litres, a total of roughly $600 per year for the 265 million litres they draw from a well in Hope.
(Photo of Fraser River in Hope, B.C.,CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Junichi Ishito modified)
(Exhibit A: Fear Mongering and Xenophobia For Votes)
In a ruling Thursday, the federal court ruled that the Charter rights of refugee applicants ( section 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms) are being violated by denying applicants from designated countries of origin (DCO) the right to appeal when their claims are rejected. This provision of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (subsection 110(2)(d.1)) has been struck down as unconstitutional; the latest in a series of the Conservative government's xenophobic refugee policy overhauls to be refused by the courts. This ruling also means that in the near future there is a higher possibility of additional aspects of the DCO policies to be challenged in the courts.