Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Is Water on the table at Montebello?

Here is a quote from the Council of Canadians response to the Calgary material re water etc. The CSIS is short for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Much of the pressure over Canadian water is coming directly from the U.S. government.
In fact Erik Peterson, listed in the “Key Personnel” section of CSIS’s North American
Future 2025 project, has said that the U.S. government must make water a top priority in
foreign policy.
Through CSIS, Peterson has teamed up with ITT Industries, a giant water technology
company, Proctor & Gamble, which has created a home water purifier called PUR and is
working with the UN in a joint public-private venture in developing countries, Coca Cola,
and Sandia National Laboratories to launch a joint research institute called Global Water
Futures (GWF).
The mandate of GWF is to effect U.S. policy on the global water crisis and to develop
technology in order to solve that crisis. A September 2005 report by GWF called
“Addressing Our Global Water Future” contains the following passage: “Policies focused
on water in regions across the planet must be regarded as a critical element in U.S.
national security strategy. Such policies should be part of a broader, comprehensive,
and integrated U.S. strategy toward the global water challenges.”
Like Canada’s oil and gas, the United States has obviously staked its claim over
Canada’s water supplies and is ready to make it a national security issue if those
supplies are not forthcoming.
On Energy
“To address the energy outlook, the study will rely on various models
developed in each of the three countries, such as the Global Energy
Futures Model and the Electricity Generation Cost Simulation Model
developed at Sandia National Laboratories; ‘The Outlook for Energy: A
View to 2030’ prepared by ExxonMobil; and data compiled by the U.S.
Department of Energy’s Energy Information Agency.”
Sandia National Laboratories’ motto is “securing a peaceful and free world through
technology” and one of its goals is to “maintain U.S. military and nuclear superiority.”
ExxonMobil’s top priority in terms of energy security is, “supporting free and open
markets to enable consumers to access the energy they need, and to spur continued
innovation.” And of the two Canadian sources cited as energy references in CSIS’s
preliminary bibliography, one is actually a Security and Prosperity Partnership document,
drafted by Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, called the “North American Natural Gas
Vision.” So much for Canadian input into CSIS’s North American energy plan!
“Trilateral coordination of energy policy is crucial to assuring North
America’s future competitiveness and regional security.”
Translation: The United States economy needs guaranteed access to Canadian and
Mexican oil and gas. Limits to that access must be ironed out through trilateral, closeddoor
discussions on energy integration.

Is water on the table at Montebello?
>by Linda MacQuaig
August 21, 2007
One thing we can be pretty sure won't be announced when Stephen Harper, George Bush and Mexican president Felipe Calderon emerge from their summit in Montebello, Que., later today is a plan to divert Canadian water to the United States.

The leaders aren't that dumb. They know that would get the Canadian public stirred up against the Security and Prosperity Partnership, the deal they're discussing about integrating the economies of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

One of the most controversial charges made by Canadian critics of the SPP—including Liberal Leader St├ęphane Dion—is that the deal may eventually include plans to divert Canadian water to the U.S., parts of which are facing serious long-term water shortages.

Canadian and U.S. officials deny water is on the table. But there's evidence that business groups in all three countries, which are the driving force pushing for deeper continental integration, have focused on the water issue in meetings connected to the SPP process.

The meetings are being held by business groups as part of the North American Future 2025 Project, which was set up by the three governments last year to help guide the SPP process. At one of those meetings, held in Calgary in April, the agenda included talks about possible water diversions.

The meetings came to light due to a document leaked to the grassroots group, the Council of Canadians. The document was prepared for the North American Future 2025 Project by the influential Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The document highlights the coming scarcity of U.S. and Mexican water, and notes that Canada is well endowed with 20 per cent of the world's water.

The document goes on to advocate “a more proactive approach to exploring different creative solutions beyond the current trans-boundary water arrangements.”

“One such option could be regional agreements between Canada, the United States and Mexico on issues such as water consumption, water transfers, artificial diversions of fresh water ...” notes the document, available on the Council of Canadians website.

The author of the document, Armand Peschard-Sverdrup, said in an interview yesterday that the Harper government has distanced itself from the project, apparently feeling that the subject of water was too volatile politically. But the project is co-sponsored by the Conference Board of Canada, which produces economic reports for business and government.

So whether the Canadian government is actually involved, business leaders in all three countries appear to be talking about the possibility of diverting Canadian water. This may be significant, given the central role of business in the SPP process.

The normal process of policy-making—involving consultation with a wide number of groups—has been set aside with the SPP. Instead, policy is being developed by business representatives, who make their recommendations directly to political leaders.

By the time the public finds out what's going on, it may be too late.

This is essentially what happened in the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement. The public wasn't aware that Ottawa, in consultation with the oil industry, was planning to give up a significant degree of Canadian sovereignty over energy by signing section 605, which prevents Canada from cutting back energy exports to the U.S.

But that's what ended up in the final agreement, and now we're bound by it.

My fear is that the same sort of thing could happen to our even more precious water resources. We'll lose control over them—not with a bang, but a quiet drip.

Linda McQuaig's column is originally published by The Toronto Star.

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