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World Water Day motion at trade committee aims to protect water from NAFTA

This Tuesday — World Water Day — Parliament’s international trade committee will vote on a motion brought forward by the NDP that would:

recommend that Canada declare a reservation from Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for all measures concerning water, including water in its natural state and as a public trust and that this be reported to the House.

The motion is in response to hearings last week at trade committee on the $130-million AbitibiBowater NAFTA investment settlement from August 2010. Witnesses included Council of Canadians board member Steven Shrybman, who warned committee the settlement created a dangerous precedent whereby foreign investors can claim a proprietary right to the water loaned to them by the provinces for economic production.

Committee members have since received over 1,000 letters in support of stronger protections in NAFTA for water. If you haven’t sent your letter to the Prime Minster and trade committee members yet, you still can by using our Action Alert here. You can add new text into the letter box asking that trade committee support the NDP motion when it comes to a vote on Tuesday.

“The $130 million record compensation to AbitibiBowater also covers water rights that have not been subject to compensation before,” said NDP trade critic Peter Julian in a release announcing his motion. “AbitibiBowater’s NAFTA challenge was weak and the Conservatives rushed to compensate unnecessary [sic]. Now it looks like through either incompetence or design they have opened up one of Canada’s most important recourses to export. This needs to be stopped.”

A vote in favour of the motion on Tuesday would put pressure on the Harper government to live up to a vote by Parliament in 2007 demanding that it “begin talks with its American and Mexican counterparts to exclude water from the scope of NAFTA.”