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London chapter hosts Maude Barlow for ‘Boiling Point’ public forum

London chapter activist Jennifer Chesnut opens the gathering this evening. Photo by Julie Picken-Cooper.

The Council of Canadians London chapter hosted Maude Barlow this evening for a public forum on her book Boiling Point: Government Neglect, Corporate Abuse, and Canada’s Water Crisis.

A key message in Barlow’s book is the urgent need to reinstate and enhance water protections in Canada.

This morning, following the upset win by President-elect Donald Trump, Barlow tweeted, “The coming assault on US environmental regulations is terrifying. We must not follow suit. Reinstate Canada’s gutted water laws now!”

In 2012, the Conservatives under then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper gutted the former Navigable Waters Protection Act through omnibus bills. C-38 removed pipelines and power lines from provisions of the Navigable Waters Protect Act while C-45 significantly reduced the Act’s scope over waterways.

Barlow has commented, “The Harper government killed the Navigable Waters Protection Act, stripping protections from 99 per cent of lakes and rivers in Canada. Major pipelines and inter-provincial power lines now have the green light to cross over and under more than 31,000 lakes and 2.25 million rivers without federal scrutiny.”

During the October 2015 federal election, the Liberals criticized the Harper government’s “elimination of the Navigable Waters Protection Act” and promised to “review these changes, restore lost protections, and incorporate more modern safeguards”.

Now Transport minister Marc Garneau says, “Some of the changes that were made we may end up saying they’re reasonable, but some of them we definitely will change.” This equivocation may be because, as The Globe and Mail reports, “The Liberal government is feeling pressure from industry over a campaign pledge to restore regulations surrounding project permits and environmental assessments.”

The Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities is accepting written comments on the Navigation Protection Act until Wednesday November 30, 2016. Please use this sample letter as a starting point to urge the standing committee to protect every lake and every river.

To date, Barlow has taken the book tour to Ottawa (Sept. 20), Kingston (Sept. 21), Guelph (Sept. 22), Toronto (Sept. 23), Vancouver (Sept. 29), Calgary (Sept. 30),  Belleville (Oct. 3), St. John’s (Oct. 14), Saskatoon (Oct. 18), Peterborough (Nov. 1), Midhurst (Nov. 7), and now London (Nov. 9). Next up is Renfrew (Nov. 17), Chilliwack (Nov. 21), and then Winnipeg (Nov. 24).

As in London tonight, many of these book tour events are being organized by Council of Canadians chapters. In the acknowledgements section of her book, Barlow writes, “Right across the country, tireless environmentalists, public sector workers and First Nations and community activists work day after day to protect water and local community rights. A special shout-out to the Council of Canadians chapters right across Canada, whose members give so freely of their time and talent.”

The London chapter also held its annual general meeting just before tonight’s public forum.

Copies of Boiling Point can be purchased at these book tour events or online through the publisher.