February 17, 2009

In a 10-minute interview broadcast on CBC-TV's The National this evening, President Barack Obama talked about NAFTA, the tar sands, Afghanistan, and Buy American.

"I think there are a lot of sensitivities right now because of the huge decline in world trade. As I've said before, NAFTA, the basic framework of the agreement, has environmental and labour protections as side agreements. My argument has always been that we might as well incorporate them into the full agreement so that they're fully enforceable."

"What we know is that oilsands creates a big carbon footprint. So the dilemma that Canada faces, the United States faces and China and the entire world faces, is how do we obtain the energy that we need to grow our economies in a way that is not rapidly accelerating climate change?"

"I think to the extent that Canada and the United States can collaborate on ways that we can sequester carbon, capture greenhouse gases before they're emitted into the atmosphere, that's going to be good for everybody."

February 17, 2009

We are now less than one year away from the start of the 2010 Olympics, which will take place February 12-28 in Vancouver and Whistler. As public concerns about the 2010 Olympics grow, and given the discussion at our Annual General Meeting in Edmonton, I wanted to resend this (slightly revised) email from November 2008 to all of you again outlining some of our concerns with the 2010 Olympics in Canada.

February 17, 2009

In a front-page newspaper article, the Canwest News Service reports that, "Canada's aging population will drive up infrastructure costs and threaten public health in a wide range of sectors including water management...concludes a new government report."

The report was conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers in April 2008 for Infrastructure Canada and is titled 'Population Aging and Public Infrastructure: a Literature Review of Impacts in Developing countries'.

"The analysis...warned that economic and health problems could ensue because of lower water consumption by an aging population that could lead to decreased flow and build up of solids in pipes designed for higher volumes of water...The problems could include bacteria in drinking water from systems that have been designed to accommodate growing populations and increasing demand, particularly in suburban neighbourhoods."

THE DANGER OF PHARMACEUTICALS IN THE SYSTEM Concern was also raised about "increased use of personal care and pharmaceutical products that could be 'persistent, cumulative and toxic' if they are flushed down toilets."

February 17, 2009

The South African Coalition Against Water Privatisation writes, "In its historic judgement handed down on the 30th April 2008, the Johannesburg High Court declared prepaid water meters both illegal and unconstitutional and ordered the City of Johannesburg to provide residents with 50 litres of free water per person/per day."

The South African constitution adopted in 1996 states that, "Everyone has the right to have access to sufficient food and water."

The Coalition notes, "Despite the judgement being celebrated by poor communities across South Africa and supported by a wide range of domestic and international unions, political parties and non-governmental organisations, Johannesburg Mayor, Amos Masondo – alongside Johannesburg Water and the Department of Water Affairs & Forestry – appealed the judgement. More recently, the National Treasury has applied to be an amicus in support of the appeal. And so, now into its sixth year, this landmark case to secure basic constitutional rights to water for all, heads to South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal."

The appeal hearing will take place on February 23-25.

February 17, 2009

Ricardo Acuña, executive director of the Parkland Institute, writes in Edmonton's Vue Weekly that, "After years of pressure from environmental groups, First Nations communities, public interest organizations and virtually everyone else with an eye to the long-term well-being of Alberta, players in Alberta’s tar sands have shelved the massive expansion plans they have been pushing."

"OK, it’s not an official moratorium, but for all intents and purposes it’s the same thing...I understand that it was the falling price of oil that forced the hands of these companies, and I also understand that they have only delayed their expansion plans rather than cancel them. But in the end, the result is the same—for the time being, tar sands projects have essentially stopped expanding."