Friday, January 27, 2012

Canada: Several groups concerned that Canada may allow privatization of water services to foreign companies

     Leaked documents that set out Canada's position on trade talks with the EU do not exempt water services. Canada is presently considering a free trade deal with Europe called CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement).
   The documents show that Canada is trying to exempt telecommunications from the agreement and also some agricultural sectors of the economy. There is no mention of water services.
     Attached to this article is a CBC audio clip that discusses the issues. On the tape there is a discussion with Stuart Trew representing the Council of Canadians. The Minister of International Trade was not available to take part in the discussion. His office did send a statement however:"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."
       It remains to be seen how long this will turn out to be true. Many countries are anxious to buy fresh water wherever they can get it. However, the statement says nothing about water services and privatizing them. Much of the concern is over the privatization of water treatment and water services rather than the privatization of the ownership of water. On the audio tape there are also interviews with Elizabeth Brubaker who is in favor of greater privatization of water utilities.

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