March 16, 2009

Notes from the 5th World Water Forum March 16-22, 2009 Istanbul, Turkey

The fifth World Water Forum has just begun in Istanbul and water justice activists from around the world are saying it should be the last. The forum is organized every three years by the World Water Council, an organization comprised of powerful transnational water corporations and international financial institutions. It is aimed at enabling corporations like Veolia and Suez to influence public policy regarding water resources and services.

Maude and I landed in Istanbul around 1pm today. We are here to join Blue Planet Project organizer Anil Naidoo and hundreds of other activists from around the world who are here to expose the forum's illegitimacy and oppose its agenda.

March 16, 2009

The Council of Canadians issued this media release this morning:


Ottawa / March 16, 2009 - The Council of Canadians is expressing shock and outrage this morning after Turkish police violently attacked a peaceful march by 300 water activists protesting the World Water Forum in Istanbul.

Reports indicate that Turkish police used tear gas and water cannons, fired rubber bullets, and arrested seventeen people, many of whom are now in hospital.

March 16, 2009

As you may know, the World Water Forum is starting in Istanbul, Turkey today. The Council of Canadians has sent national chairperson Maude Barlow, Blue Planet Project organizer Anil Naidoo and national water campaigner Meera Karunananthan there to speak out against the World Water Forum's water privatization agenda and in support of water as a human right.

On Saturday the right-wing FOX News reported that, "Maude Barlow, attending the conference in her official role as the U.N.'s 'water czar,' will help lead at least 200 activists in protests and demonstrations against the weeklong World Water Forum..."

"Critics say Barlow, 61, is pushing a radical agenda from within the U.N. She is also the head of the Council of Canadians, an organization opposed to free trade that objects to American influence in Canada. The Council is paying her way to Istanbul, though Barlow will be appearing in her official U.N. role."

This article can be read at,2933,509223,00.html

March 14, 2009

The CBC reports today that, with the changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act now approved, "the federal transport minister can now decide what waterway qualifies as major or minor under the legislation and if there needs to be any environmental assessment before development goes ahead."

"The government argues that that the old law treated small creeks and big rivers the same and was slowing down crucial construction projects...But the changes have sparked a wide coalition of paddlers, environmentalists and hunters and anglers who fear that a dam or a bridge could be built on their favourite river with no public input."

THOUSANDS HAVE EMAILED POLITICIANS ON THIS ISSUE "Thousands have been reportedly emailing politicians over the changes. Liberal Senator Joseph Day, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said he has received more than 8,000 messages on the topic."

March 14, 2009

The Globe and Mail reports this morning that, "A leaked government document outlining the proposed changes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act indicates Environment Minister Jim Prentice has asked for a bill 'overhauling' the legislation as soon as possible."

CHANGES WOULD MEAN 95% DROP IN FEDERAL ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENTS "Under the new system, the government should 'expect to capture 200-300 projects per year,' the document states. That would represent a more than 95 per cent drop from the roughly 6,000 federal environmental assessments that currently take place each year."

THIS FOLLOWS CHANGES TO THE NAVIGABLE WATERS PROTECTION ACT "The changes would come on the heels of a similar change included in the budget legislation that passed this week, which reduced the ability to trigger environmental assessments through the Navigable Waters Protection Act."

PRENTICE SAYS RULES DELAY STIMULUS SPENDING Environment Minister Jim Prentice "said the proposed changes are in response to the provinces, who recently told Prime Minister Stephen Harper that overlapping environmental rules will delay public stimulus spending from creating jobs."