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UPDATE: Campaign plans for 2011

Happy new year and welcome to 2011!

This year the Council of Canadians will be launching three new campaigns.

This month we will be posting to hire a health care campaigner and re-dedicating ourselves to defending and expanding public health care in Canada.

We will also be seeking to declare the Great Lakes a commons, public trust and protected bio-region – and ensure that the plan to ship radioactive waste on the lakes is stopped. This work will include a new report and multi-city speaking tour by Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow.

And we will be launching a national campaign calling for federal and provincial action to stop fracking, a dangerous shale gas extraction method that destroys water.

In addition to this work, we will be ramping up our campaign to defeat the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. While the Harper government seeks to complete the deal by the end of 2011, we will deliver the message in Canada (with a speaking tour) and in Europe that CETA equals water privatization and unfettered tar sands expansion.

Protection of the Arctic will also be a key priority as we seek to stop oil offshore and gas drilling in the Arctic so that the North doesn’t see a repeat of the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

With the nickel processing plant and the destruction of Sandy Pond scheduled to begin in 2013, we will counter this by increasing our support for a legal challenge against the federal government on the Schedule 2 provision that allows this and by continuing other efforts to hold accountable one of the world’s biggest and most harmful mining companies, Vale.

At the United Nations we will build on the right to water and sanitation resolution by advocating for a universal declaration recognizing the rights of nature with the publication of a new book in the spring, as well as by working in solidarity with Indigenous communities to have the right to water recognized in Canada.

We will also be working hard over the coming year, given the outcomes of the Cancun climate conference, to ensure that a climate agreement reflecting the imperative of climate justice is reached at the next climate summit in South Africa.

And given the news of the last several weeks, the Council of Canadians will undoubtedly be tackling the Harper government’s proposed security perimeter with the United States that threatens to undermine civil liberties in the name of trade promotion. It is anticipated that a declaration will be signed by Harper and US President Barack Obama in January and that a binational working group will present an operational plan based on that declaration in March or April.

As always, there will be so much more. We will continue to call on the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan to divest from private water utilities in Chile (and send Ontario teachers there to see the problem first-hand), we will work with farmers, small municipalities and concerned citizens to stop water markets in Alberta, and we will be part of an international movement building to derail the plans of the big water transnational corporations at their World Water Forum in Marseilles in early-2012. And as speculation about a post-budget spring-time federal election begins, we expect that an election – and the challenging of deep spending cuts by the federal government – could be part of our work this year as well.

2011 promises to be an exciting year of fast-paced political campaigns, popular pressure, and wins.

In closing, as we say goodbye to 2010, this is a good opportunity to look back at our collective wins in 2010 – see http://canadians.org/join/wins.html – and to remind ourselves of what we can accomplish together. As Maude Barlow is fond to close with in her speeches, quoting Arundhati Roy, “Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them. Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”