(Photo: Quinte Chapter member Lynn Braun, Water Campaigner Emma Lui and Chapter members Lynne Rochon and Brenda Picard)
On November 14, I spoke to a residents of Prince Edward County (PEC) about current water issues as part of the Corporatizing Canada book tour.
In Corporatizing Canada: Making Business Out of Public Service, activists and scholars offer cutting-edge analysis about the commercialization of public services, including water, education, health care and more.
I spoke about how Nestlé's bottled water takings and the privatization of water pose a clear risk to the human right to water. I also talked about how impact that “corporatization” - governments increasingly adopting corporate models - has had on the human right to water and equitable and sustainable access to public services. Water and wastewater services might still be public in name, but many have been transformed over the past 30 years into market-friendly institutions run by neoliberal bureaucrats.
The need to protect the human right to water and implement the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is now more important than ever. This was particularly relevant to PEC with the five drinking water advisories in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory only 30 minutes away from the county. One of the DWAs have been in place for since 2003 - 15 years ago - and three have been in place since 2008.
The audience also included many residents engaged and committed to protecting water in their community and the event was a lively and inspiring discussion about the importance of water.
Victor Lind from Save Picton Bay spoke about the group’s work protecting Picton Bay which has seen a petcoke spill, salt being stored at the Picton Bay terminal leaching into the water and a sunken barge containing diesel fuel, which resulted in the county declaring a state of emergency.
Residents also discussed concerns about the proposed condo development in Picton Bay and its impact on drinking water supplies and the lack of wastewater services to accommodate the development.
The inspiring people in this community are another example of how frontline communities are our greatest hope for water justice.
The event was hosted by the Quinte Chapter of the Council of Canadians and the Prince Edward County Public Library.