Protecting Canada's Freshwater Resources
Canada enjoys some of the highest quality drinking water in the world. We are also endowed by some of the largest reservoirs of freshwater. Canada's supply of fresh water is estimated at 5.6 per cent of the world's supply.
However, in an era of climate change, with growing shortage of freshwater sources in the United States, Canada's freshwater is increasingly under the threat of privatization and bulk export.
Stephen Harper's Conservatives promised to protect Canada's freshwater resources from bulk export - but failed to act.
In 2010, the government introduced modest steps to strengthen the prohibitions against bulk water exports in the Transboundary Waters Protection Act. At the time of announcement, Conservative minister Lawrence Cannon said "Canada’s fresh water is essential to the well-being of our nation. It is our lifeblood and Canadians want this resource safeguarded." However, the Conservatives soon abandoned their own legislation.
It is time for a government that will stand up for Canada's long-term water security.
A New Democrat government led by Paul Dewar will:
Support the principle of public delivery of water services:
Canadians have enjoyed some of the highest quality drinking water services due to our strong public water delivery system. However, the public system has been under increasing pressure for privatization.
A Paul Dewar government will protect the principle of public delivery of water services by providing funding for public water infrastructure and delivery projects. Public systems are a cost-efficient, accountable, flexible and environmentally-sustainable way of delivering water services for Canadians.
Enforce federal laws protecting water quality and fisheries, and properly support agencies regulating water:
A Paul Dewar government will ensure that water resources are protected and managed to build and maintain a sustainable economy.
Under Paul Dewar, Canada will establish legislation and standards, in collaboration with the provinces, territories, First Nations and municipalities to ensure access to clean water for all Canadians.
Under Paul Dewar, Canada will recognize water as a public resource and not a commodity. Dewar's government will respect the water rights and entitlements of First Nations and work toward the provision of safe drinking water on all reserves within the next ten years.
A Paul Dewar government will work with other levels of government to reduce pollution, protect and restore the health of aquatic ecosystems.
Establish a federal ban on bulk water export to prevent the large removal of freshwater and the subsequent environmental damage to water basins:
In April 2007, Canadians learned that bulk water exports had been a subject of discussions between business and government leaders in Canada, US, and Mexico. The United States is facing acute water shortages. Twenty-one percent of farmland irrigation in the US comes from the pumping of groundwater at rates that exceed the water’s ability to recharge. In 2003, two-thirds of US states predict they would face water shortages over the next 10 years.
The growing United States interest in Canada's freshwater requires a Canadian government that is willing to stand up for Canada's long-term water security. Canada does not have a water surplus, with more than 25% of Canadian municipalities facing water shortages over the recent years. Furthermore, bulk water exports could cause major ecological damage to ecosystems. Evidence indicates that draining massive amounts of water from lake and river basins disrupts local ecosystems, damages natural habitats, reduces biodiversity, and dries up aquifers and underground water systems.
Despite its promise to stand up for Canada's water security, the Conservatives are missing in action. A Paul Dewar government will ban the export of bulk water.
Encourage research and development in water conservation systems, technologies and practices, including water efficiency standards for domestic and industrial use:
Canadians consume approximately 350 litres of water a day per capita, second only to the Americans. The average global citizen needs only between 20 and 40 litres of water a day for drinking and sanitation.
Governments at the provincial/territorial and municipal level have taken steps to promote and encourage water conservation. It's time for the federal government to work with other provinces to improve water efficiency in Canada.
A Paul Dewar government will encourage research and development in water conservation systems, technologies and practices. Paul Dewar will also work with other levels of government to improve water efficiency standards for domestic and industrial use.
Take global leadership on addressing water issues:
Canadian citizens and organizations took leadership to secure the United Nations recognition of access to clean water and sanitation as a human right. Sadly, the Conservative government voted against this important resolution.
Under the Conservative government, Canada has become a laggard in fighting climate change. Climate change is melting glaciers in the Rockies and warming much of Canada resulting in threats to many water supplies needed by Canadians and aquatic ecosystems. A Paul Dewar government will restore Canada's leadership role internationally in the global fight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Instead of standing against global consensus on access to clean water as a human right, Dewar's government will provide leadership on global water rights issues, including the protection of access to safe water for all, including both people and nature.