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Fredericton chapter calls for halt to provincial government’s water strategy process

The Fredericton chapter at last night’s open house.

The Council of Canadians Fredericton chapter is calling for a halt to New Brunswick’s water strategy process.

On March 22, the chapter joined with the Wolastoq Grand Council and other allies at a media conference to call on the provincial government to stop their water strategy review process. The CBC reported on that noting, “A group of New Brunswick conservationists, led by The Council of Canadians, says the Liberal government’s new water strategy process is ‘a sham’.” Chapter activist Margo Sheppard commented, “Less than two weeks [after the discussion paper was released], five open houses were scheduled in rapid succession, with the sixth and last one occurring tomorrow [March 23]. Think you blinked and missed the boat? You are not alone.”

The Fredericton chapter attended that open house last night and raised nine questions about the process.

Chapter activist Mark D’Arcy writes, “[The chapter] delivered a clear message to the Brian Gallant government – halt the water strategy process until you can properly answer these nine questions.” Just some of those questions are: Did you invite the legitimate representatives of the Indigenous Nations to this workshop (e.g. Wolastoq Grand Council)? Why are you not following the findings of the Ombudsman (to implement existing water classification for our rivers)? Why the rush? Why engage in public consultation less than two weeks from the release of the Water Strategy discussion paper?

After chapter activist Maggie Connell presented those questions to Environment & Local Government Deputy Minister Kelli Simmons in front of those assembled at last night’s town hall meeting, a video tape catches Michael Pearson, the Director of Strategic Planning Section in the Office of the Premier, saying off-camera, “Don’t answer those questions”.

That happens at about the 6:34 point in this video.

Today, CBC reports, “Environment Minister Brian Kenny is defending his department’s attempt to develop a new water strategy amid complaints from environmental groups that the process is a sham. …The Department of Environment released a discussion document earlier this month that called for input to create a comprehensive approach to managing surface and groundwater resources. That public consultation process was derided this week by a group of conservationists, including the Council of Canadians, Green Party Leader David Coon, First Nations and other watershed groups.”

That news report highlights, “Conservation groups are angered that the Liberal government’s new water strategy process is being rushed through without adequate involvement of the public. Kenny refused to respond directly to the specific concerns raised by the critics…”

The Fredericton chapter is now encouraging “citizens, groups, and Indigenous people in New Brunswick to call for a halt to the this current Water Strategy process.” They say, “Please tell the government that this is a strategy not to conserve and protect water, but it is a strategy to allocate water.”

The Department of Environment and Local Government is accepting comments in writing until April 29. You can send your comments by e-mail to waterstrategy-strategiedeleau@gnb.ca

Further reading
Fredericton chapter says New Brunswick water strategy process “a sham” (March 23, 2016)
9 questions that Brian Gallant’s Government must answer before any Water Strategy process (March 23, 2016)