NDP Campaign to Exclude Bulk-Water Exports from NAFTA Gains Support
Published June 1, 2007
SAULT STE. MARIE – Two separate developments Thursday – a united federal Opposition in Ottawa and unanimously approved Ontario legislation -- give momentum to the campaign long endorsed by the NDP to exclude bulk-water exports from NAFTA.
The three federal Opposition parties in debate Thursday supported a motion that the government quickly begins talks with its American and Mexican counterparts to exclude water from the scope of NAFTA. At Queens Park in Toronto, all parties supported a bill to protect Great Lakes water from being sold or shipped across the continent.
“This has been a longstanding campaign for the NDP,” Sault MP Tony Martin said. “We in Sault Ste. Marie Algoma live beside the greatest fresh water resources in the world and there must be no diversion, period” Martin said.
“This must be a public issue, publicly debated and publicly decided, given its importance. With the record low water levels for Lake Superior, we must be vigilant. Just last month water transfers to the U.S. were on the agenda of a closed-door conference in Calgary of top-flight advisors for the Security and Prosperity Partnership.”
The SPP was launched in March of 2005 by the former Martin Liberal government, who played a lead role in creating the SPP, also called deep integration. The SPP is a trilateral initiative to fast-track the integration of Canada and Mexico with the United States. The SPP is now being pushed more aggressively by the Harper Conservative government.
The SPP is an agenda that stretches across most ministries in the federal government, aiming to harmonize Canadian social, economic, and security policies and institutions with those of the U.S., and to deregulate or reduce regulation in more than 300 different policy areas. Recent manifestations have shown that vital issues, such as bulk water exports, water diversion, Canada-U.S. border issues and much greater sellouts of Canada’s energy resources to the U.S. are part and parcel of this agenda that has been championed by the Canadian Council for Chief Executives and kept away from the public eye.
“I congratulate all three Ontario political parties for doing the right thing provincially,” Martin said. “Next week, we will vote in the House of Commons on this motion and demand from the Conservatives that they listen to Canadians and put Canada first.”
NDP Trade critic Peter Julian says that in 1998, California-based Sun Belt Water Inc. launched a $10.5-billion lawsuit under NAFTA against British Columbia when a provincial ban scuttled its plans to ship water by tanker to the U.S. (The case is still pending.)
"As a foreign investor, all you need to do is apply for a permit. You'll either get to export water, or you can sue for compensation, which taxpayers will have to pay. Either way, the investor wins, and Canada loses."
As for the federal-provincial deal, Julian says provinces will break the accord if the price is right, noting that Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland have all considered allowing water exports in recent years, but backed down in the face of public opposition.