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Barlow refutes bulk water export advocate on CBC Radio’s The Current


Maude Barlow, Parag Khanna


CBC Radio’s The Current broadcast an interview with Parag Khanna this morning which featured a caution from Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow.


Khanna is an international relations expert, a CNN Global Contributor, a Senior Research Fellow at the National University of Singapore, and a best-selling author. His most recent book is titled, Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization. In that book he writes that Americans should get to know the names of Canadian provinces “because that’s where their water might be coming from”. He says that is because Arizona, Nevada and California are running out of water. He highlights, “Without Canadian water, it is hard to imagine the United States continuing to produce one-third of the world’s corn and soybean exports.”


He writes, “The time has come to dust off schemes such as the renowned Canadian engineer Tom Kieran’s Great Recycling and Northern Development Canal and the ill-fated 1970s North American Water and Power Alliance (NAWAPA), both of which borrow from Dutch and Chinese experience to use dikes and canals to capture river runoff as far north as Canada’s Yukon and Hudson Bay and channel it through the sixteen-hundred-kilometre Rocky Mountain Trench and the Great Lakes into man-made reservoirs and interbasin canals that could both replenish the Ogallala aquifer and feed the Colorado River.”


Khanna notes, “NAWAPA even foresaw using nuclear explosions to forge underground trenches and reservoirs. And nuclear power stations to pump water across the continent.”


On The Current, Barlow responds, “The most popular government you can imagine would never be elected again if they ever went along with a plan to re-energize the Grand or NAWAPA projects. They have been soundly rejected by generations. There have been different schemes, there was one to export water from Newfoundland, there was another to export water from Lake Superior. And in every case Canadians rose up and said absolutely not. There’s something visceral about water. It’s different from other kinds of things. People understand that without water you die. Without quality water your life doesn’t have quality. And people have a very strong reaction to the thought of selling water and selling out the water heritage. So I pity any government that would dare try to reenter into any kind of discussion on those projects or anything like it. I don’t think it will happen.”


The Council of Canadians urges the Trudeau government to develop a comprehensive national water policy that bans all bulk water exports, excludes water from the North American Free Trade Agreement and other ‘free trade’ agreements, and recognizes water as a human right, commons and public trust.

Further reading
Debate on bulk water exports to U.S. resurfaces despite recent droughts in Canada
Chretien’s comments on water exports draws rebuke from Barlow
National Post promotes bulk water exports