Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow writes in a letter to the editor published in the Globe and Mail today:
Former prime minister Jean Chrétien talks about using Canada’s water to help those less fortunate. However, in a presentation Tuesday to the Munk Centre and in an interview, he made it clear he was talking about being open to commercial water exports as he compared water to energy and noted that Canada sells its oil and gas, so why not open up a debate on water as well.
I remember this exact conversation happening about “sharing” our energy in the days before energy was included in NAFTA and before we lost our sovereign control over our energy resources. If water is opened up for commercial export, it will not go to the billions of poor Mr. Chrétien references, but rather to the wealthy but dry cities and industries of the American Southwest.
It was his government that signed NAFTA without the promised changes to exclude water. This has led to water rights claims by American corporations in Canada. The Harper government recently paid $130-million to pulp and paper giant AbitibiBowater for the so-called “water rights” it left behind when it vacated its operations in Newfoundland.
Maude’s letter can be read at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/letters-to-the-editor/march-24-letters-to-the-editor/article1954148/. A Globe and Mail article with her rebuke of Chretien’s suggestion that there should be a debate on water exports is at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=7094.