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Windsor-Essex chapter organizes solidarity action to challenge Detroit water cutoffs

The Windsor Star reports, “About 1,000 litres of Windsor tap water will be shipped to Detroit later this month in a bid to raise awareness for what one Canadian group calls a blatant contravention of international human rights. Members of the Council of Canadians are rounding up a posse and heading across the border on July 24 to protest the Motor City’s bold cost-saving measure that has disconnected water services to thousands of impoverished residents in the past few months.”

“Canadian protestors will take a convoy of about 12 cars to Detroit, carrying 50 five-gallon containers of water, which is the equivalent of about 2,800 personal water bottles. Bringing potable water on July 24 is not a solution to the problem, but by joining the scheduled rally that day, activists hope to send a strong message, said Doug Hayes, chairman of the Windsor-Essex chapter of the Council of Canadians. ‘We’re hoping it will sort of embarrass the City of Detroit into realizing this is not the right thing to do’, he said.”

“Maude Barlow, chairwoman of the Council of Canadians, has been leading the charge against Detroit’s disconnection strategy, which is an issue she raised with the UN earlier this year. Since then, three UN experts produced a report that found the city’s plan violates people’s right to water and sewer services.”

“The fight to restore water to impoverished Detroit residents has made its way to the White House. Catarina de Albuquerque, the UN expert on the human right to water and sanitation, is expected in the coming weeks to release a second water shut-off report, which is expected to include a response from the federal government. ‘We hope this public shaming will put pressure on the federal government’, Barlow said. ‘No country wants to be known as the country that is in violation of these basic human rights.'”

In a June 27 interview on CBC Radio’s As It Happens, Maureen Taylor of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization says, “Our sisters and brothers from Ottawa, Canada are bringing barrels of water across the bridge so that we can give it to homes where there’s no water.”

The interviewer asks, “So Canadians are bringing water for the people of Detroit? And you’re going to go home to home and deliver this water from Canada?” Taylor answers, “We’re going to find a way to deliver this water if we have to reach people and say come to the corner of this and this and there’s three barrels of water waiting for you. We’ll do it that way.”

Then the interviewer asks more critically, “I can understand how handing out water from barrels would get you a lot of attention and you probably need that, but it won’t really solve the problem will it?” Taylor says, “If we can bring this issue to bear, our focus is that perhaps people of goodwill will wake up and say whatever that is that’s going on in Detroit I’m an American citizen as well and I want it to stop. Tyranny exists where good people stand and say nothing.”

As It Happens also noted the water convoy in a July 7 interview (in part 2 at the 12:48 mark) with U.S. Representative John Conyers who opposes the water cutoffs.

Further reading
Council of Canadians to organize water convoy to Detroit
FAQs: The fight to protect the human right to water in Detroit
Violations of right to water in Detroit highlighted, UN responds