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CONTACT: Council of Canadians
Earthroots' Campaigner Josh Garfinkel at 416-599-0152 ext. 15
Council of Canadians' Regional Organizer Mark Calzavara at 416-319-6524
STORM Coalition's Outreach Campaigner Debbie Gordon
Protecting OUR WATER Through Action and Implementation
WASHINGTON - October 14 - People from across Ontario brought their concerns - and their local drinking water - to a rally at Queen's Park today to tell Premier Dalton McGuinty that they want their water protected from polluting industry, unsustainable business-as-usual development, and from the newly proposed ‘Open for Business' and ‘Water Opportunities' Acts that will make matters even worse. Despite highly praised, recent pieces of legislation like the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan, examples of the Ministry of the Environment not enforcing their own policies are abundant. The underlying message from the organizers of the rally is that a Provincial Water Strategy is sorely needed.
Long blue banners fluttered overhead as speakers gave accounts of government indifference and loopholes in current regulations that allowed bad projects to proceed to the point where full scale community organizing was the only way to stop them.
"The reality is that land use legislation for the Oak Ridges Moraine can't protect this critical landform without a new provincial approach to protecting our common water resources", explains Debbe Crandall, technical advisor to STORM (Save the Oak Ridges Moraine) Coalition. "Because of gaps and loopholes in moraine protection, we are fighting against a proliferation of roads, pipes and utilities, as well as trying to stop precious moraine water servicing new greenfield development off the moraine. How this is possible with all these new anti-sprawl statutes is beyond me - this is not what anyone thought ‘protection' would mean."
Josh Garfinkel, senior campaigner for Earthroots, puts the issue in a provincial perspective. "A government that truly wants our water protected would look at the big picture, which means quantifying how much water is available, and how much is being lost to sprawl, climate change and pollution. There is an urgent need for a Provincial Water Strategy with teeth and the leadership necessary to enforce it."
"There is a global water crisis happening right now and Ontario is already feeling the impacts", said Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. "We need real protection for our water more than ever, but Premier McGuinty is taking us down the wrong path. His 'Open for Business Act' strips away our ability to fight for our water in favour of boosting the profits of polluting industries, and his 'Water Opportunities Act' subsidizes the private water industry to clean up pollution that should not have happened in the first place. Allowing more pollution and then selling technology that will try to remove it is wrong. Blind faith in unregulated market mechanisms is what got us into this mess in the first place"
Protestors brought jars of their own drinking water from across the province and one by one they presented them to Queen's Park, urging the province to create a Provincial Water Strategy capable of carrying Ontario safely through this century's growing water crisis.