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Liberals to spend more on water protection while approving major threats to water

The federal Liberal government is expected to spend more on water protection in its budget on February 27, while continuing to champion the 890,000 barrel per day Kinder Morgan pipeline that crosses more than 1300 waterways to fill hundreds of tankers on the Pacific Ocean with bitumen each year and recently approving BP to conduct oil and gas exploration in the deep ocean waters off the coast of Nova Scotia.

The Canadian Press reports, “The federal government appears poised to commit what some believe could be a significant amount of cash in next week’s budget to protect more of Canada’s lands, inland waters and oceans.”

Inland waters refer to lakes, rivers, ponds, streams, groundwater, springs, cave waters, floodplains, as well as bogs, marshes and swamps. The Great Lakes are also considered to be inland waters.

That news report adds, “Groups pushing Canada to fulfil its United Nations vow to safeguard more of its ecosystems by 2020 say signals from Ottawa suggest this will be the year the government announces a big investment. It remains to seen how far the Liberal government will go to meet its targets under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity — but the clock is ticking. The agreement, reached in 2010, says Canada must protect at least 17 per cent of its terrestrial areas, including inland waters, as well as at least 10 per cent of its oceans by 2020. Today, Canada’s protected space covers nearly eight per cent of its marine ecosystems and just over 10 per cent of terrestrial areas.”

The federal government is expected to spend $1.4 billion over a three year period to meet its UN commitment.

A water budget written by Council of Canadians water campaigner Emma Lui will be released as part of the Alternative Federal Budget on February 22. In terms of water protection, the budget she proposed last year included:

  • $4.3 billion (over five years) to implement a comprehensive action plan to protect the Great Lakes

  • $327.5 million (over three years) to establish water quality and quantity monitoring frameworks; increase the number of monitoring stations, train staff in water monitoring, and create a new water minister position

  • $50 million to conduct assessments of all energy and mining projects; include community consultations and seek free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous communities in the process

  • $50 million to reinstate federal funding for water programs at the departments of Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, and Transport Canada

  • $30 million to conduct an in-depth and independent study of the effects of tar sands development on the environment and health

  • $3 million to commit to a groundwater protection plan

  • $1 million to complete a review of virtual water exports from Canada

The Council of Canadians also calls on the Trudeau government to scrap its recently proposed Canadian Navigable Waters Act (that is contained within Bill C-69) and table much stronger water protection legislation that:

  • protects all lakes, rivers and drinking water sources from being impeded, encroached upon or put at risk of contamination

  • rejects the Kinder Morgan pipeline that would threaten 1,355 waterways alone and phasing out extreme energy and water intensive projects

  • protects oceans, ecosystems, marine life and the integrity of water itself to remain as intact as possible in watersheds

  • respects that free, prior and informed consent must be obtained, as required by the UN Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, prior to the approval of a project

  • enshrines the UN human rights to water and sanitation, and the ‘obligation to protect’ drinking water from being polluted

  • appoints a federal water minister who would have the key role of advocating for the protection of water in cabinet decision-making on major resource projects

To sign our petition with these demands, please click here.