There are two competing narratives about the earth’s freshwater resources being played out in the 21st century. On one side is a powerful clique of decision-makers, heads of some powerful states, international trade and financial institutions and transnational corporations who do not view water as part of the global Commons or a public trust, but as a commodity, to be bought and sold on the open market.
This paper is intended to serve as a background, a call to understanding and a call to action on an exciting new proposal to designate the Great Lakes and its tributary waters as a lived Commons, to be shared, protected, carefully managed and enjoyed by all who live around them.
This report summarizes key state, provincial and national legislation governing oil transport and shows glaring gaps in environmental assessments, spill prevention and preparedness, spill response capacity, funding and other safety issues.
This report examines Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s record on freshwater protection. While the Harper government’s impact on our waterways has been significant and devastating, he is not the first to have neglected Canada’s freshwater heritage. Previous federal Liberal and Conservative governments have also bought into the myth of water abundance and have allowed serious deterioration of our lakes, rivers and groundwater.
Protecting the future of the Great Lakes is in all of our hands. When communities come together with passion and purpose, they can change political priorities and shape a better future for our shared water. Together, we can build a new Great Lakes commons vision that centres on people and the environment over industry and commodification.
Also inside: Canada votes: Election reflections | Creating a new narrative for the Great Lakes | CETA’s high toll on health care | 2010 annual report
The Great Lakes of North America are in serious trouble. Industrial pollution, climate change, over-extraction, invasive species, and wetland loss are all taking their toll on the watershed that provides life and livelihood to more than 40 million people that live around it.