Council of Canadians challenges Environment Minister on bulk water exports



    OTTAWA, April 16 /CNW Telbec/ - Environment Minister John Baird's
response to a leaked document that reveals bulk water exports will be
discussed at a trinational meeting in Calgary is full of holes according to
the Council of Canadians.
    The citizens' advocacy group obtained the document produced by the Centre
for Strategic and International Studies, a prominent Washington-based think
tank last week. It revealed that government officials and business leaders
from Canada, Mexico and the United States plan to discuss bulk water exports
in a closed-door meeting in Calgary on April 27, as part of a larger
discussion on North American integration.
    "Minister Baird's claims that current legislation prohibits bulk water
exports are inaccurate," says Maude Barlow, National chairperson of the
Council of Canadians. "The provincial accords he mentions are voluntary and
can be broken at any time. The so-called prohibition on bulk water exports
contained in the 1909 International Boundary Waters Treaty Act (IBWTA) only
applies to waters that are shared with the U.S. and does not apply to what the
U.S. is really after - water from Canada's North."
    Last October the Global Water and Energy Strategy Team, another
Washington-based group, put forward a proposal to export water from northern
Manitoba to Texas through a pipeline. According to Barlow, nothing in Canada's
existing legislation would prevent this type of scheme from being implemented.
    The Council of Canadians is also concerned that restrictions on shared
waters outlined by the IBWTA are weak and have been ignored in the past,
allowing for water diversions from the Great Lakes.
    "Baird makes no mention of the April 27 meeting to which government
officials from all three NAFTA countries have been invited," says Barlow. "Is
he prepared to state unequivocally that our government will not take part in
these talks?"
    The Council of Canadians will hold an "open-door" meeting in Calgary on
April 25. The public meeting will give groups and concerned citizens a chance
to discuss North American integration and the looming threats it poses to
Canada's water.




For further information:

For further information: Meera Karunananthan, Media Officer, (613)
233-4487 ext. 234, cell: (613) 795-8685, meera@canadians.org

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