Prime Minister Harper has just signed the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), and Canadians who care about our freshwater heritage should be deeply concerned for three reasons.
Maude Barlow's blog
The world is running out of accessible clean water. Modern humans are polluting, mismanaging and displacing our finite freshwater sources at an alarming rate. Since 1990, half the rivers in China have disappeared. The Ogallala Aquifer that supplies the breadbasket for the United States will be gone "in our lifetime," says the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
By 2030, our global demand for water will outstrip supply by 40 per cent, a sure-fire recipe for great suffering. Five hundred scientists recently told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that our collective abuse of water has caused the planet to enter "a new geologic age" and that the majority of planet's population lives within 50 kilometres of an impaired water source.
Thanks to overwhelming support and generosity from people like you, the Hupacasath First Nation had the funds needed to take the Harper government to court this past June in an historic legal challenge.
The Hupacasath are fighting the extreme and secretive corporate rights deal known as the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA), which threatens the environment and public health and exposes Canada to 31 years of costly lawsuits.
And right now they urgently need our collective support once more.
Despite a powerful legal case arguing that the government has a duty to consult First Nations, the federal court sided with the Harper government. But today there is renewed hope. The Hupcasath and their legal team are mounting an appeal of the ruling – but time is short and they can’t do it alone.
That’s where you and I come in.
Rather than the outrageous $355,907 the Conservative MPs requested, the judge awarded them about five per cent of what they wanted, noting that "the applicants in this matter were genuine public interest litigants motivated by a higher purpose" who "stood to gain nothing other than the vindication of their electoral rights."
I come to you with an urgent appeal on behalf of the Hupacasath First Nation in British Columbia. At any moment, Prime Minister Harper could ratify the Canada-China FIPA (Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement) – one of the most fundamentally anti-democratic, anti-worker, anti-environment and anti-Indigenous rights deals since NAFTA.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that the Hupacasath are trying to stop the FIPA from becoming law. There’s a chance they will succeed – but not without all of our help right now.
The United States and European Union have taken the free trade plunge.
President Obama announced in February that he will start talks with the EU on a transatlantic trade, investment, and regulatory pact. Last week, the European Commission sent a draft secret mandate to member states on how far they're willing to go to clinch it. And the usual business lobbies have already begun to celebrate what they hope to be an important (for them) leap forward for corporate globalization.
The Mexican government is allegedly seeking a spot in the transatlantic talks with speculation Canada may join. But for all three NAFTA countries the pact would be a mistake, as Canadians are learning too late.
The groundwork for a U.S.-EU free trade zone can already be found in the four-year-old Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) negotiations. Like that other big trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the CETA hopes to eliminate about 98 per cent of tariffs on most products. But the broader goal is to reduce so-called non-tariff barriers in the form of domestic regulations, public services, government procurement, performance requirements on investment, and intellectual property rights.
This commentary, co-authored with David Schindler, professor of ecology at the University of Alberta and founding director of the Experimental Lakes Area, was published in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix.
Unless a buyer is found within mere weeks - a prospect that's looking increasingly unlikely - Canada's Experimental Lakes Area will be closed.
The ELA is an internationally renowned freshwater research centre that has been studying what makes water sick and what makes it well for more than four decades.
Located on dozens of freshwater lakes in a remote area of northern Ontario, the ELA has conducted groundbreaking work on acid rain, algal blooms, climate change and mercury contamination.
Scientists and governments around the world have recognized and used its findings in their research and policy making. The ELA has given Canada a stellar reputation in freshwater research, and closing it would be like France closing the Louvre.
Written by Maude Barlow and Meera Karunananthan for The Broker’s ‘Prioritising Water’ consultation. The aim of the consultation is to bring together international experts to pool their knowledge on the role of water in the Post-2015 development agenda. You can also follow the debate on twitter: #tbwaterdebate.
The United Nations has just named 2013 the year of water cooperation. Those of us who have been fighting privatization packaged as “partnerships” and deregulation promoted as “corporate sustainability” are naturally skeptical.
We cannot talk meaningfully about sustainable solutions to the water crisis unless decision-makers are willing to acknowledge the need for an overhaul of the water-guzzling and water-polluting neoliberal economic model. David Harvey described it best when he referred to neoliberalism as a strategy of “accumulation by dispossession.”
Hello from snowy Vienna. We have had a wonderful day. Over 300 people and a lot of media attended this important conference today. People in Europe have been fighting water privatizations for over a decade and have started a process of reversal, leading to the remunicipalization of many water services, including some major cities, such as Paris.
But in a classic example of what Naomi Klein calls the shock doctrine, the European Commission and the European Central Bank are using the financial crisis to promote an "austerity" program that includes privatization of water services in a number of countries. Already, water prices have been dramatically raised in some cities, leading to water service cut offs and even evictions.
As posted on the Center for Humans & Nature website in response to the question: "Can democracy in crisis deal with the climate crisis?"
Can democracy in crisis deal with the global warming crisis? Yes! But only by addressing the crises of democracy and climate together.
I see four steps.
Reign in the Power of Big Oil
The crisis of democracy is largely fuelled by the unprecedented power of transnational corporations, and the richest, most powerful industry sector in the world is big oil. Not only does it influence elections, in many countries, it often sets domestic and international policy. In my country (Canada), the energy industry wrote Prime Minster Stephen Harper and outlined the six environmental protections it wanted gutted so that it could build new pipelines—east, west, and south—unimpeded. In two recent budgets, our government fully complied, leaving our land, water, and air unprotected by law. Big oil companies, like other industry giants, are protected by bilateral, regional, and global trade and investment agreements that allow them to sue governments at will. US-based Occidental Petroleum successfully sued Ecuador under the US-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty for $2.4 billion in compensation when that country terminated its contract after Occidental broke its terms.
The power of these corporations to influence politics and policies as well as the trade deals that insulate them from the rule of law must be ended if we are ever to move to alternative and sustainable forms of energy. Ending corporate rule would go a long way to restoring democracy.