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‘The cost of clean water is within the reach of any country in the G8’, says Harper

The prime minister who opposes recognition of water as a human right says, “As leaders of the most developed economies of the world, we have an obligation to assist those who are most vulnerable to hardship.”

The Toronto Star reports today that, “Canada intends to champion a new international agenda to improve the health of women and children in the world’s poorest regions, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says. Harper is vowing to make the issue a ‘top priority’ when he hosts the G8 meeting of influential world leaders this June in Huntsville.”

“Harper said it is ‘unacceptable’ that 500,000 women die each year during pregnancy and childbirth and 9 million children die before their fifth birthday. Yet he said the solutions don’t have to be expensive, noting that the cost of providing clean water, inoculations, better nutrition and training of health workers is ‘within the reach’ of any G8 nation.”

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has said, “Recognizing water as a human right is vital to ensuring that governments address the reality of more than a billion people who are currently without access to clean water.”

Barlow says, “A UN covenant on the right to water would serve as a common coherent body of rules for all nations, rich and poor, and clarify that it is the responsibility of the state to provide sufficient, safe, accessible and affordable water to all of its citizens.”

Additionally, the Canadian Press reported yesterday that, “Prime Minister Stephen Harper will test drive his priorities for the G8 and G20 summits this week (during the prorogation of Parliament) at an elite conference in Davos, Switzerland, and he’s expected to highlight the environment, development and global economic growth.”

“While Canada’s official agenda for the end-of-June summits is not yet finalized, climate change will figure prominently at both meetings, a senior government official said.”

“While Canada has been widely pilloried for its lack of plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Ottawa wants the two summits to push the world closer to a binding international treaty on emissions reduction, based on the agreement-in-principle reached in Copenhagen last month.”

To read Andrea Harden-Donahue’s evaluation of the Copenhagen Accord, go to http://canadians.org/energyblog/?p=176.

“Economic recovery, banking regulations, aid for mothers and children in poor countries and global security are also top of mind for the prime minister as he leaves Tuesday night for a quick three-day trip.”

“Stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and other security concerns will also be on the G8 discussion list. For the G20, Harper will use his Davos speech (on Thursday) to signal that the Toronto summit in June will focus on entrenching the global economic recovery.”

The Council of Canadians will be present in Toronto for both the Peoples Summit and the G8/G20 summit weekend to promote water, climate and trade justice, as well as the democratization of global decision-making.