The Council of Canadians says new federal protections against bulk water exports are not tough enough.
Last week, an act to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act and the International River Improvements Act was introduced by Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon.
Bill C-26 would strengthen the regulations that prohibit the removal of water resources from Canada to the United States.
Once approved, the bill will give authorities new enforcement and inspection powers. It will also mean corporate violations could lead to fines of up to $6 million.
But Meera Karunananthan, with the Council of Canadians, criticized the new protections for leaving northern water resources vulnerable and exempting the beverage industry.
Karunananthan told the Straight today (May 17) that a complete ban on the commercial export of bulk water is needed.
“We would like to see the federal government seriously address the fact that we’re seeing increasing competition between commercial interests and the public interest and environmental interests,” Karunananthan said. “We would like a more comprehensive strategy that would address that—that would recognize water as a human right.”
“Recognition of water as a public trust would force governments to look at water resources as public and ensure that when they make decisions about the allocation of water resources that they keep the public interest in mind.”
The bill would still allow shipment of water across the border for humanitarian purposes, which the Council of Canadians does not oppose.