Good Morning to the Honourable Rob Renner and Honourable Alana Delong,
This is an open letter to the Environmental Minister of Alberta, the Honourable Rob Renner, and my current elected representative the Honourable Alana DeLong.
A while back I wrote to you about commodification of water, and my concerns about ongoing rumours about Alberta becoming one of the first provinces to move towards a water market or commodification system. Replies I have received from that message indicated that there was no intention to commodify Alberta’s water, and that our water was going to remain as part of the government protected commons. On the Alberta Government website it says the following about water:
“Water is not only a resource, it is a life source. We all share the responsibility to ensure a healthy, secure and sustainable water supply for our communities, environment and economy – our quality of life depends on it.” ( http://environment.alberta.ca/01157.html )
Bold words from our government, that have been reiterated to me by various political figures. So I am a little surprised to have an article in Reuters, half press release, from Geneva talking about the Government of Alberta and corporate figures in discussion about a water exchange in Alberta that would, more or less, commodify our water, thus removing it from the commons. Here’s a quote from the article:
“We are actively dealing with the government of Alberta to think about a water exchange…” – Peter Brabeck, Nestle Group ( http://af.reuters.com/article/idAFLDE74917X20110510?sp=true )
That seems like a pretty clear indication that there is at least some discussion about commodification of our water. Given that water is fundamental to the survival of any living being, plant, and system I am deeply concerned about talks in Alberta about changing our water into a commodity. This has proved disastrous in countries like India where corporations have taken away traditional water sources leaving the poor without any drinking and agricultural water, and in countries like Bolivia where water commodification ( even -RAIN- was commodified! ) allowed Bechtel to force people to choose between water and food ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bechtel#Bolivia ). Under the UN Charter of Human RIghts water is a protected right of all human beings, I know it is not part of the Canadian Bill of Rights as of yet, but honestly, you’re dead in 3 days without it.
If commodification did not work to help the citizenry in Bolivia or India, why would it suddenly work here in Canada? My guess is it won’t, even though we can make a hefty profit exporting our water to the rest of the world much like we do with our oil. We sell our crude oil resources to the US and other nations, who then sell us back refined petroleum at an inflated price. I suppose it helps balance our ‘trade deficits’ but in the end it’s bad for the Canadian consumer, I pay for this at the pump where glib stickers tell me that a whopping $0.15 of the $1.20+ I pay is going to taxes, and that the oil industry and their record profit levels are operation on such a tight margin. Just imagine how this is going to work when I start paying 50-100% more for my water, I’m sure that glib sticker will be telling me that it’s taxes all the way down. That idea doesn’t fill me with excitement.
Just doing a quick search on ‘Water market alberta’ on Google has given me tens of thousands of articles in the news about Alberta slowly and steadily moving towards full water markets and commodification. ( http://tinyurl.com/3zue5kw )
Why? Why is this happening, and why have I been told in the past that our regulations are ‘stringent’ and ‘some of the best in the world’ and that water is a resource of great importance to Albertans? With all due respect, I don’t like being told half truths and in some cases outright lies by people who are accountable to the electorate. What I’d like to know is what is honestly going on up there in Edmonton, because it sure doesn’t seem to be in my best interests. I don’t want our water commodified. I don’t want a water market in Alberta. I don’t want our water being parcelled off and sold to corporations. Period.