The Toronto Star reports this evening that, "Foreign companies would gain unprecedented access to municipal water services and perhaps even a claim to the water itself under the free trade deal now being negotiated between Canada and the European Union..."
"That’s the view of Canadian trade lawyer Steve Shrybman, who penned an opinion of the free trade talks for the Centre for Civic Governance, a Vancouver-based advocacy group."
"The European Union has made a pointed request that drinking water services be included in the trade agreement, opening the door for big multinational firms to 'stake' a claim in municipal water systems, he said. 'The objective of these large water conglomerates is to expand their Canadian markets by winning contracts to establish and/or operate water supply and waste water treatment facilities and services,' he writes in his opinion. 'The most serious threat to public ownership and control of water arises from the risk of private entities being able to establish a proprietary claim to the water itself,' the report says. 'It is not implausible that international investment rules might be invoked to assert an interest in the underlying resource – water,' it says."
Shrybman's opinion will be available on the Centre for Civic Governance website, http://www.civicgovernance.ca/. The Centre is an initiative of the Columbia Institute.
Their media release today stated, "The Centre for Civic Governance will be holding a media conference at 11:00 A.M. on Saturday, May 29 at the Sheraton Centre, Toronto, for the release of the legal opinion outlining the implications of the trade deal."