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Barlow speaks at Group of 78 luncheon on the threat trade deals pose to water

Photo by Akaash Maharaj‏

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow spoke at a Group of 78 event in Ottawa earlier this week.

Their website notes, “The Group of 78 is an informal association of Canadians seeking to promote global priorities for peace and disarmament, equitable and sustainable development, and a strong and revitalized United Nations system.”

It adds, “It began in 1980 when a small group including Andrew Brewin MP and Peggy Brewin, Murray Thomson of Project Ploughshares, Robert McClure, former Moderator of the United Church, and King Gordon, formerly of the United Nations Secretariat, drafted a statement on how best Canada could contribute to the building of a peaceful and secure world. In November 1981 that statement, Canadian Foreign Policy in the 80s, was sent to Prime Minister Trudeau. It was signed by 78 Canadians — a group of 78.”

Their mission statement highlights, “Since its origins in 1981, the Group of 78 has promoted dialogue about a progressive Canadian foreign policy, based on the principles of sustainable PEACE through common security, JUSTICE in prosperity, equity, inclusion with diversity, and SURVIVAL of our planet in the face of modern human activity.”

The promotion for the luncheon that featured Barlow noted, “Maude will not only outline the threat of agreement like NAFTA and CETA to water but will put forward a way to protect water in trade deals.”

In her talk, Barlow articulated the arguments in her report Water for Sale: How Free Trade And Investment Agreements Threaten Environmental Protection Of Water And Promote The Commodification Of The World’s Water.

Barlow says, “To protect water in international trade dealings, water must be removed as a tradable good, service and investment in all trade and investment agreements. The practice and privilege of investor-state dispute settlement provisions must end. People and their governments must be given the right to restrict trade from places or in conditions where water and local communities have been harmed.”

She highlights, “New trade agreements must be negotiated to give governments the right to protect water and the environment, maintain public management of water, and promote the human right to water. The political moment to have this debate has arrived.”

To read her 28-page report, please click here.