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NEWS: Canadian Water Issues Council critiques C-26

The Globe and Mail reports that, “A federal proposal (Bill C-26) to keep water in Canadian rivers and lakes from being exported wholesale to an increasingly thirsty United States will not stop the Americans if drought convinces them to come after Canada’s greatest natural resource, experts (from the Canadian Water Issues Council) say.”

In a letter this week to Foreign Affairs minister Lawrence Cannon the group made two main points:

“There is little point in stopping diversions from rivers that are already flowing into or out of the United States as the new Act aims to do, said Ralph Pentland, the letter’s author, in an interview with The Globe and Mail. The water that flows from Canada to the United States eventually becomes the property of the Americans without the need for diversion. And the Americans can take the water from the rivers that flow in the opposite direction before it even gets to Canada. On the other hand, said Mr. Pentland, there would be value to the Americans in finding water to channel water from lakes and rivers that do not flow into basins that eventually spill into their territory. …Of much greater concern than protecting water in the cross-border rivers is the possibility that the Americans would pay to divert lakes and streams that do not currently flow across the border… ‘So the Act as it’s written wouldn’t accomplish anything,’ he said.”

“Another problem with the Act, says the Canadian Water Issues Council, is that it does not prohibit pipelines or canals from being built to send water south into the United States from bodies of water that do not cross the border. An existing law called the International River Improvements Act requires anyone wishing to build such a conduit to obtain a federal licence. (They) that no licences should be granted, period.”

A listing of recent bulk water export schemes can be read at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=3096. This National Post editorial promoting bulk water exports notes that, “Groups such as the Council of Canadians have mobilized public opinion against the bulk sale of water as far back as the debate on the Canada-U. S. Free Trade Agreement, claiming that water sales would represent a loss of sovereignty.”

The Council of Canadians critique of C-26 is at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=3725, http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=3593, and http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=3580.