Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace


Posted by strattof on May 19, 2008



March 22 is World Water Day. The perception that Canada has an unlimited supply of water is a myth. The truth is there are increasing shortages of water across the country. Already, many small communities and First Nations reserves do not have access to clean water. As of February 29, 2008, there were 93 First Nations communities across Canada under a Drinking Water Advisory.




·         Individually, we are water guzzlers. Per capita, Canadians consume 343 litres per person a day, twice as much as the French. In wasteful water practices, we are second only to the US.


·         Due to global warming, water levels in the Great Lakes are falling and glaciers are shrinking.


·         The single biggest contributor to the growth of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions is the development of the Alberta oil sands. Oil sands development is also the source of the fastest growing water loss and contamination in the country. To get the tar-like substance out of the sands, steam is used to warm and make it flow. It takes between 2 and 4.5 barrels of water to produce a barrel of oil.


·         42% of water discharged by factories is dumped untreated into lakes and rivers. Agribusinesses, too, dump vast quantities of chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and hormones into Canadian waterways. Effluent from massive hog-farm operations also continues to contaminate Canada’s waterways.


·         Bottled water is draining water supplies around the world and clogging landfills with plastic. Canada now exports more bottled water than it imports, selling its spring and ground water all over the world, mostly for the profit of foreign-owned bottled water companies.


·         Canada’s water supply is under threat from bulk water exports to the US. Under NAFTA water is categorized as a tradable good. If one province were to begin to sell water abroad, all provinces could be obligated to do the same, due to the terms and conditions of NAFTA. The latest free trade agreement, the Security and Prosperity Partnership, includes plans to build a North American superhighway that will contain pipelines to transport bulk water exports from Canada to the US.




·         We can become good stewards of water in our daily lives. Using the dishwasher and the washing machine only when they are full could cut water use by 100 litres per week. An additional 1000 litres could be saved by not watering the lawn. The deadest-looking grass will revive with the next rainfall.


·         We can boycott bottled water. Public water is safer, cleaner, and more affordable. Tap water is tested assuming regular daily consumption over a person’s lifetime, whereas bottled water receives only general product testing. When those who can afford it buy bottled water, public water supply systems are undermined.


·         We can speak out against the development of oil sands in Saskatchewan.


·         We can lobby all levels of government to stop the pollution of Canada’s waterways.


·         We can urge Ottawa to develop a national water policy that bans bulk water exports.


·         We can urge Ottawa to declare access to clean water a basic human right. Canada is the one nation in the world that has repeatedly voted against UN resolutions on the human right to safe drinking water. The government’s opposition to the resolutions may be due to its fear of being charged for not providing clean water to many First Nations reserves and small communities.


Sources: Maude Barlow, Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis; Council of Canadians pamphlets; Environment Canada and Health Canada websites; Linda McQuaig, Holding the Bully’s Overcoat: Canada and the US Empire.




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