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UPDATE: Council brings Olson to Canada to speak against water markets

The Council of Canadians and partners (including CUPE, the Sierra Club, and the Wilderness Committee) organized to have Jim Olson speak on the public trust doctrine and water in Edmonton (March 22), Victoria (March 23), and Vancouver (March 24). Olson is a Michigan-based environmental lawyer and one of the world’s foremost experts on the public trust doctrine. Olson spoke against the plans for ‘water markets’ being considered in both Alberta and British Columbia. At the public forums, he argued that the public trust doctrine is a viable alternative to a market-based allocation system for water.

British Columbia is currently in a review process for its Water Act and the introduction of a market-based allocation system for water licenses (or a water market) has been suggested. In Alberta, the provincial government is reviewing its Water Act and there are indications it may introduce a province-wide largely deregulated water market.

The Council of Canadians is opposed to water-markets. They would essentially remove regulatory control over the allocation of water and allow for allocation priorities to be determined by a market and purchasing power. Corporate interests would be prioritized over the interests needs of ecosystems and the public.