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NEWS: Barlow challenges Nestle’s ‘bully tactics’ in Guelph

The Guelph Mercury reports that, “During a (public forum featuring Maude Barlow) this week at University of Guelph’s War Memorial Hall, water protection group Wellington Water Watchers made public a July 12, 2010 letter written by John Challinor, Nestlé Waters director of corporate affairs. The letter is addressed to Kevin French, assistant deputy Minister of the Environment. In the letter, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, Challinor accuses Wellington Water Watchers of ‘attempting to undermine public confidence in the Province’s stewardship of water’… In the letter, Challinor wrote the organization should be funded by like-minded individuals, ‘not (Ontario Trillium Foundation) grants via provincial taxpayers.’”

“The event where Challinor’s letter was made public attracted about 350 people who gathered to hear Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians. Barlow called the letter ‘really awful’, and said Nestlé Waters was attempting to undermine the democratic right of free speech and trying to get funding cut to Wellington Water Watchers. ‘They are using their power and money to go after a small organization’, Barlow said. ‘Disgrace and shame on them.’  She said it is crucial for organizations such as Wellington Water Watchers to ‘stay on track and not be intimidated by bully tactics.’ Such tactics, she added, are used when a company feels its bottom line being negatively impacted by activism.”

In April 2008, a Council of Canadians campaign blog highlighted a Wellington Water Watchers win over Nestle. The corporation had applied to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment to withdraw 3.6 million litres of water a day for five years from the area (the Paris Galt moraine) for their bottled water operations in Aberfoyle, but the term approved was reduced to two years. The ministry also ordered increased monitoring and testing to ensure that the public water supply wasn’t threatened by Nestle’s water takings. Wellington Water Watchers was instrumental in securing these conditions. The Canadian Press reported at the time that the Wellington Water Watchers also “questioned the logic of letting an international conglomerate take 1.3 billion litres of water a year for only the cost of a $3,000 application fee.”

Today’s news article is at http://news.guelphmercury.com/News/article/753743.