Will Canada lose its water?

With Canada Water Week in full swing, Greens are lamenting the defeat last week of Bill C-267 – a bill to ban bulk water exports.

“The defeat of Bill C-267 is a step backwards in protecting freshwater sources in Canada. We sorely need a ban on bulk water exports that is binding on provinces,” says Maude Barlow, National Chairperson for the Council of Canadians. “Bill C-267’s recognition of water as a common heritage is crucial in protecting water in the public interest. While any legislation banning bulk water exports must include diversions of 50,000 or less as well as manufactured products such as bottled water, Bill C-267 was a critical step forward in a concerted effort to ban water exports across provinces.”

“Canada’s freshwater is frighteningly vulnerable.  As it stands, water in natural water bodies is not a good in trade. The minute we allow a single shipment of water in bulk from one drainage basin to another, particularly from Canada for sale in the US, we would then have turned a tap on that would be simply impossible under the terms of NAFTA to turn off,” warned Green Leader Elizabeth May, MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands.

The House is currently considering a bill similar to C-267. Bill C-383, the Transboundary Waters Protection Act. 

“This bill is good, but only covers export of boundary and transboundary water.  I am hoping we can amend it to include a ban on inter-basin transfer. Without such a ban, Bill C-383 will only protect 10 percent of Canada’s water,” said May.

In dealing only with boundary and transboundary water, Bill C-383 is ignoring 90% of Canada’s water resources. “As custodians of 9% of the planet’s renewable water resources, we have a moral obligation to preserve them for our generation and future generations,” said May. “It is critical that Canada protects our water sources by prohibiting the transfer of water in bulk, prohibiting its sale, prohibiting water in its natural state from ever being seen as a good in commerce.”