May 2, 2009

This morning at the Liberal Party of Canada convention in Vancouver, Liberal delegates voted in favour of a resolution that states, "Canada establish a National Water Policy that would protect water from commoditization, and from international agreements that would undermine the authority of the Canadian government and citizens by introducing binding legislation to ban bulk water exports; and committing the federal government to enter talks with the U.S. and Mexico to exclude water from NAFTA and all future trade agreements; (and) enshrine water as a human right to ensure that all people living in Canada are legally entitled to safe, clean, drinking water and water for sanitation in sufficient quantities..."

The Council of Canadians (particularly national water campaigner Meera Karunananthan) worked hard to have this important resolution passed and this past Wednesday sent an open letter to the Liberals calling on them to support this effort.

May 2, 2009

The Canwest News Service reports this morning that, "Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be in Prague next week (on May 6) to launch Canada-European Union free trade in the midst of growing transatlantic tensions over Canada's seal hunt. Members of the European Parliament are expected to vote Tuesday in favour of a law banning seal product imports."

"While most Canada-EU trade tariffs are low or non-existent, some still exist that will be the target for removal in talks, such as charges for trade in certain industrial products, primary metals, chemical products, transportation equipment, metals and transport equipment, according to Canadian officials. Canada also wants to ease the ability for professionals, such as architects and doctors, to cross the Atlantic to work, as well as remove regulatory requirements that act as non-tariff trade barriers."

"A joint Canada-EU study last year initially concluded that $36 billion in annual economic activity would be generated by 2014 if a deal is struck, with $15 billion of that amount going to Canada...That estimate was later downgraded in the final report to $32 billion overall and $13 billion for Canada."

May 1, 2009

The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix reports today that, "The river cutting through Saskatoon is at risk, says the United Nations' senior adviser on water. The streams that feed the South Saskatchewan River are also at risk and the glaciers feeding these streams are declining rapidly, said Maude Barlow, who is also Council of Canadians chair."

"Barlow presented the 42nd Mary Donaldson memorial public lecture at TCU Place, which is hosted annually by the Saskatchewan Library Association. Barlow's message contrasts sharply with a common perception of Canada as a land with abundant fresh water resources. Canadians have been told for generations that water recycles itself over and over. But that's not entirely the case any more -- the careful balance has been tipped, Barlow said. Major centres dump waste water into the ocean, taking water out of the freshwater table and creating shortages. Diverting streams and groundwater has disrupted natural cycles."

May 1, 2009

The Miami Herald reports that, "Canadian mining company Pacific Rim will take the Salvadoran government to international arbitration court for alleged losses caused by government 'inaction' due to permit delays for what would be El Salvador's biggest mine to date."

"The case is among the first international investment disputes under the Central American Free-Trade Agreement, or CAFTA, which eliminated barriers to trade and laid ground rules for such disputes."

"The (Vancouver) company's Nevada-based subsidiary filed a notice of intent to pursue international arbitration against the Salvadoran government in December, which the company plans to file in a matter of weeks..."

"The company has been waiting for four years for final permits for the underground gold mine, which faces staunch opposition from Salvadoran environmentalists and church leaders as the first large-scale mine in 70 years in Central America's smallest country."

May 1, 2009

In an op-ed in today's Globe and Mail titled 'A case for the three amigos', Security and Prosperity Partnership proponents Robert Pastor and Andrés Rozental write that, "The swine flu pandemic is an ideal issue on which we should be working together, not only to halt the spread of the virus within our own region and to third countries but to ensure that solidarity among us avoids the adoption of damaging defensive measures by others that will negatively affect trade, tourism and communications to and from all of North America."

They tout the benefits of NAFTA but bemoan that, "some Canadian voices have called for a strategy to dump Mexico and cut deals only with the United States."

They conclude, "Isn't this a great opportunity for Canada to join its North American neighbours and allies in working together, rather than separately? Canada needs to accept Mexico as a true partner. If it does, the North American concept will be reinvigorated and become an example of progressive co-operative integration, rather than a failed experiment to be disdained and discarded."