Privatizing Water

Leaked documents outlining Canada's negotiating position in trade talks with the European Union make no mention of an exemption for water services. That has raised concerns that municipal drinking water could be vulnerable to privatization in a free trade deal. We'll look at what multinational-owned water systems could mean for what comes out of the tap in Canada.

Today's guest host was Mike Finnerty in Montreal.

Part One of The Current


It's Friday, January 27th.

A retired Nova Scotia judge won $30,000 in damages from the City of Halifax after getting hurt playing badminton at a municipal gym.

Currently, at least she knows her way around ONE kind of court.

This is The Current.

Privatizing Water - Stuart Trew

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is in the Swiss resort Davos this week for the World Economic Forum ... the annual summit to take stock of the global economy. Trade has been one of the key factors helping Canada to ride out the difficult economic times since 2008, which have hit most other Western nations much harder. Improving trade is one of his economic policy goals, and one of the biggest potential agreements currently on the table is a free trade deal with the European Union: the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement ... or CETA.

On Wednesday, the Quebec-based civil society group RQIC, in English: the Quebec Network on Continental Integration - leaked documents outlining Canada's negotiation position. They show Canada has been trying to keep telecommunications and some agricultural sectors out a free-trade deal with the EU.

But no attempt to protect water from foreign investment. And that has some people worried about expanded privatized water services in Canada. Stuart Trew is the Trade campaigner with the Council of Canadians and we reached him in Hamilton, Ontario.

We requested an interview with the Minister of International Trade, but he was not available to talk to us today. But his office did send us a statement.

It reads, in part:

"The Council of Canadians and the Canadian Union of Public Employees have long claimed, erroneously, that a Canada-European Union Free Trade Agreement will threaten Canada's sovereignty over its water. Those claims are simply not true. As our government has stated previously, Canadian products, services and expertise are absolutely for sale, but our regulations and government powers are not. Nor is Canada's water."

Privatizing Water - Elizabeth Brubaker

Elizabeth Brubaker is the Executive Director of Environment Probe, a Toronto-based public policy group that has promoted greater privatization of water utilities. She is also author of Liquid Assets: Privatizing and Regulating Canada's Water Utilities. Elizabeth Brubaker was in Toronto.

Privatizing Water - Jacques Dube

We also had Jacques Dube on the line. He's the City manager for Moncton and their water supply and distribution is run by both the city and the water treatment is run by the private company Veolia Environment.

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