Janice Horgos, chair of the Thunder Bay chapter's Blue Planet committee, writes in today's Chronicle Journal, "John B. Challinor 11, director of corporate affairs for Néstle Waters Canada, claims that the Thunder Bay Council of Canadians request that Thunder Bay become a Blue Community is the result of a 'Trojan horse-like' union-led conspiracy under the guise of human rights and infrastructure management."
She highlights, "Mr. Challinor’s claim that supporters of this initiative are misguided and misled and not exercising independent thinking, simply does not hold water." She backs that up by noting, "There are 14 Blue Communities in Canada and 84 municipalities, two territories, seven school boards and 66 post-secondary institutions have banned or restricted the use of bottled water. Mayor Hobbs, several city councillors, the EarthCare Advisory Committee, EcoSuperior, CUPE Local 87 and many concerned citizens, environmental groups, health professionals, educators, students and First Nations have expressed support for Thunder Bay becoming a Blue Community."
On the three key aspects of the blue community resolution, Horgos argues:
- "Around the world, demand for water is growing, while supply diminishes. ...If the private water industry’s takeover of public water is allowed to continue, who will ensure the protection of our water and its fair and equitable distribution? This is clearly a human rights issue."
- "Unlike municipal tap water, bottled water is regulated under the Canadian Food and Inspection agency and bottling plants are only inspected every one to three years. Thunder Bay has state-of-the-art public water and waste water systems. Our municipal tap water is stringently regulated, continuously monitored and tested more than 29,000 times annually."
- "Many other communities that participated in public/private partnerships, (P3s) have taken back their water and waste water services. It makes sense that informed elected officials and citizens want to maintain public control of our water and waste water infrastructure and services."
She concludes, "If there is a 'Trojan horse-like conspiracy' as Néstle claims, it’s the private water industry’s massive public relations campaign to undermine faith in public water in an effort to divert attention from its corporate takeover. Located at the headwaters of the world’s largest body of freshwater, becoming a Blue Community will confirm Thunder Bay as a leader in the protection of this shared public resource and help make our community and planet more sustainable."
Photo: Thunder Bay chapter activist Janice Horgos