World Water Day 2014: Canada’s water crisis and climate crisis are one and the same

World Water Day 2014: Canada’s water crisis and climate crisis are one and the sameOn the occasion of World Water Day 2014, the Green Party of Canada wishes to bring attention to the many significant threats that Canada’s fresh and tidewaters are currently facing.

World Water Day has been observed annually since 1993. The UN has designated “Water and Energy” as this year’s official theme, to highlight the close interdependencies between water use and energy generation.

This is a theme of particular relevance to Canada, where the relentless drive to extract and transport fossil fuels has directly endangered much of our country’s water.

“With threats ranging from fracking in New Brunswick to the prospect of bitumen-filled tankers in BC’s Hecate Strait, it is clear that our country’s water and aquatic ecosystems are at risk,” said Dr. Andrew Park, University of Winnipeg Ecologist and the Green Party Environment Critic.

“At the same time, water-related disasters left many communities devastated over the past year – The increasing frequency of these extreme weather events is a key prediction of climate scientists”

“Water bodies such as the Great Lakes, the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, and many across Alberta are suffering multiple overlapping stresses that are likely to act synergistically with climate change, exacerbating the effects of overfishing, chemical contamination and water withdrawals for industry,” added Park.

Since 2011, the Harper Conservatives have attacked the whole architecture of environmental law in Canada, removing environmental protections, eviscerating the Navigable Waters Protection Act, in place since the time of Sir John A Macdonald to remove over 97% of all our lakes and rivers from designation under federal law, and giving corporations unprecedented freedoms to exploit Canada’s land and water.

“From an amendment to the Coasting Trade Act opening the Arctic to offshore drilling, to granting an exemption for pipelines from the Navigable Waters Protection Act, no government has done more to eliminate environmental oversight and ‘streamline’ industrial development in Canada,” said Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu, Climate Change Critic for the Green Party.

“That’s why it is critically important that Canadians from coast to coast to coast are joining together to take a stand against climate change, and to protect their water and their communities against the threats of mining, natural gas drilling, and reckless pipeline expansion.”

“To protect water, we need to protect climate,” said Elizabeth May, Green Leader and Member of Parliament for Saanich–Gulf Islands. “It is urgent that Canada develop a plan to transition our economy off its dependency on fossil fuels. We will find to our horror that economic losses, whether the stranding of goods along the St. Lawrence Seaway as water levels drop or the loss of crops to drought or the devastation of cities and farmlands from massive floods will follow quickly on the heels of our neglect of the climate challenge. We urgently need climate action or we will face a massive water crisis.”