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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Protect Canada’s water as a public resource: NDP

Protect Canada’s water as a public resource: NDP

AbitibiBowater NAFTA deal has effectively privatized Canada’s water resources

OTTAWA – The Harper Conservative’s decision to compensate AbitibiBowater last summer, whether it was intentional or not, has effectively privatized Canada’s water resources under NAFTA. Without immediate action, New Democrat International Trade Critic Peter Julian fears that this will open the way for bulk water exports from Canada.
“The $130 million record compensation to AbitibiBowater also covers water rights that have not been subject to compensation before,” said Julian. “AbitibiBowater’s NAFTA challenge was weak and the Conservatives rushed to compensate unnecessary. Now it looks like through either incompetence or design they have opened up one of Canada’s most important recourses to export. This needs to be stopped.”
To ensure bulk water exports are stopped, Julian has submitted a motion to the International Trade Committee that would exclude water from NAFTA’s provisions that will be debated and voted on Tuesday March 22, which corresponds to International World Water Day.
“The Conservative government has brought us into dangerous territory”, said Julian. “Now any corporate CEO can challenge a denial of water rights or water permits on the grounds of a potential negative impact on corporate profits. This issue should be receiving much more attention.”
Earlier this month, Julian forced Parliamentary hearings into the Abitibi Bowater compensation at the International Trade Committee. Expert witnesses confirmed the precedent setting nature of the $130 million settlement for water rights, after Abitibi Bowater reneged on agreements that have been made with the provincial government of Newfoundland-Labrador.
In the last few days, hundreds of e-mails and letters have flowed to the Government of Canada from activists across the country concerned about the nature of the Abitibi-Bowater payment and the precedents it sets for future compensation for water rights.

Abbotsford NDP Candidate David Murray with Ed Broadbent at Halifax convention
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