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As shut-offs enter third month, Canadians to bring water to Detroit, demand Obama declare state of emergency

Water is a Right

Unable to cook, bathe, or brush their teeth, thousands of Detroiters are now entering their third month without running water. To support their neighbours across the border, the Windsor chapter of the Council of Canadians will send a convoy of 1000 litres of water to Detroit with a message for President Obama.

“The human suffering is that of a major disaster, one that grows every day,” says Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “I ask Obama, with his sense of justice, to intervene and to declare a state of emergency. It is appalling that this has been allowed to happen, even more so to go on this long.”

At the initiation of Barlow’s global water advocacy organization, the Blue Planet Project, and Detroit groups three UN experts including Catarina de Albuquerque, Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, warned that the mass water shut-offs were a violation of human rights.

Barlow adds, “Water is a human right, and it is unacceptable in a country of plenty, surrounded by the Great Lakes, the largest source of fresh water in the world, that people should go without.”

The convoy and rally are being organized by the Windsor chapter of the Council of Canadians and the Detroit People’s Water Board. It will cross the U.S.-Canada border with 50 jugs of water on Thursday, July 24.  At a rally at the Spirit of Detroit statue, Barlow will speak along with Maureen Taylor from the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization and Paul Moist from the Canadian Union of Public Employees. 

“I am doing this because as good neighbours, we need to show our solidarity,” says Doug Hayes from the Windsor chapter of the Council of Canadians. “But while these jugs of water will help, it is not the solution. We need Obama to get involved and ensure human rights are restored.”

The Council’s water campaigner, Emma Lui, says that the planned privatization of Detroit’s water system is the problem. “They are cutting off 150,000 households so that the company will look more lucrative to private investors. But this is just a recipe for more human suffering.”

The Council of Canadians is urging the city to implement the original water affordability program written by Michigan Welfare Rights Organization.

When: Thursday, July 24th, 2014 at 4:00 p.m.
Where:  Spirit of Detroit statue (Woodward and Jefferson) The convoy will deliver the jugs of water to St. Peter’s Church after the rally.


Photo: Overpass Light Brigade, Creative Commons