For Immediate Release
Council of Canadians Warns of Loopholes in New Federal Water Legislation
OTTAWA - The Council of Canadians is concerned with the newly introduced Bill C-26, An Act to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act and the International River Improvements Act.
"The Council of Canadians doesn't see Bill C-26 as a ban on bulk water exports and while the federal government claims it will strengthen the IBWTA, the Act actually weakens certain important elements," says Council of Canadians National Water Campaigner Meera Karunananthan. "This not something to be celebrated."
"This legislation actually narrows the definition of bulk removals to exclude water in manufactured products such as beverages," notes Council of Canadians National Chairperson Maude Barlow. "Canada needs a comprehensive national water policy that bans on all bulk water exports, excludes water from NAFTA and recognizes water as a public trust in order to truly address competing commercial and public interests."
"NAFTA still has the possibility, if one of the provinces disobeys the federal law, of extending the notion of water as a commodity," says Council of Canadians National Water Campaigner Meera Karunananthan. "We need to make water a public trust if we truly want to address the fact that the public interest has been subservient to commercial interests, a situation which will worsen with climate change and increasing shortages."
"It is highly problematic that the Act narrows the definition of water removals and diversions to bulk removals of 50,000 litres or more and exempts water in manufactured goods including beverages," says Karunananthan. "Bill C-26 does not cover waters that are not boundary or transboundary waters."
"Bill C-26 does not apply to water resources in the North, which have been the subject of the most recent proposals by right-wing think tanks GWest, the Frontier Centre, and the Montreal Economic Institute," notes Barlow. "Therefore Bill C-26 is effectively not a ban on bulk water exports."