Maureen Taylor of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization was just on CBC Radio’s As It Happens.
She was being interviewed about the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department shutting off water services to city residents who are behind in their payments. According to a recent DWSD document, more than 80,000 residential households are in arrears in a city where the unemployment rate is about 40 per cent and an estimated 50 per cent of residents cannot afford their water bills. In March, the city announced it would begin shutting off water services to 1,500 to 3,000 customers every week.
The Blue Planet Project and the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization – along with its allies the Detroit People’s Water Board and Food and Water Watch – have been organizing to stop these water shut-offs, highlighting that they are a human rights violation. Three United Nations special rapporteurs agree.
In the interview, Taylor says, “Our sisters and brothers from Ottawa, Canada are bringing barrels of water across the bridge so that we can give it to homes where there’s no water.”
The interviewer asks, “So Canadians are bringing water for the people of Detroit? And you’re going to go home to home and deliver this water from Canada?” Taylor answers, “We’re going to find a way to deliver this water if we have to reach people and say come to the corner of this and this and there’s three barrels of water waiting for you. We’ll do it that way.”
Then the interviewer asks more critically, “I can understand how handing out water from barrels would get you a lot of attention and you probably need that, but it won’t really solve the problem will it?” Taylor says, “If we can bring this issue to bear, our focus is that perhaps people of goodwill will wake up and say whatever that is that’s going on in Detroit I’m an American citizen as well and I want it to stop. Tyranny exists where good people stand and say nothing.”
At the end of the interview, As It Happens co-host Jeff Douglas says the group Ms. Taylor refers to is the Council of Canadians and that the water delivery will happen on July 24.
July 24 was chosen because a demonstration will be taking place that day in Detroit and its the date the city’s bankruptcy trial begins. That trial will confirm Detroit’s restructuring plan.
The Council of Canadians Windsor chapter – and our offices in Ottawa and Toronto – are planning to transport 1,000 litres of drinking water in 50 water jugs to families in need as a tangible solidarity action.
Council of Canadians chairperson and Blue Planet Project founder Maude Barlow will participate in the delivery of this water.
You can listen to the full interview here.