Water: Canada's Most Valuable Resource

Let the fighting for "Blue Gold" begin


| July-August 2000



Should we invade Canada with armed forces? Sure, they’re nice people, and ever so peaceable. (It’s going to be hard to work up much xenophobic hatred toward a country that thinks “jeepers” is an expletive, and that has “Be Polite” in its constitution.) But Canadians have something we need, and I don’t mean hockey players. “Blue gold,” it’s been dubbed by a Canadian newspaper, but it’s far more valuable than that implies, because the world can do without gold.

Water. That’s what Canada has that parts of our country and much of the world might literally kill for.

Hell, you say, water’s everywhere. Yes, but as Canada’s Maude Barlow points out, less than half of 1 percent of all the water on the globe is drinkable. An author and agitator for common sense, Barlow heads the Council of Canadians and is founding chair of Action Canada Network, two grassroots groups working for progressive policies. “Worldwide, the consumption of water is doubling every 20 years,” she writes in a stunning report called “Blue Gold: The Global Water Crisis.” In a very short while, most of the world’s people will face shortages or absolute scarcity. This is not a matter of seeing more stories of wretched African children dying in horrible droughts, but of imminent water crises in America (the Southwest, Florida, and California especially), Southern Europe, India, England, China, and other nations not usually thought of as facing massive water shortages.

Canada, on the other hand, has a blessing of agua fresca. Some 20 percent of the world’s entire supply of freshwater is in its winding rivers and countless lakes. This reality has not dawned on Canadians alone; others are casting their eyes northward. But it’s not countries making invasion plans—it’s corporations.

To get their hands on the gold, the corporate grubbers first have to change how drinking water is managed. Instead of letting countries treat it as a commonly held resource allocated for the general good, they want it considered as a commodity traded by private investors for profit. Like oil or pork bellies . . . only this is your drinking water they want to privatize. Will it surprise you to learn that those bratty globalization twins, NAFTA and the World Trade Organization, contain provisions that advance the commodity concept? Both baldly assert that “water, including ordinary natural water of all kinds,” is merely one form of “goods,” subject to the new rules of global trade.

We’re talking about bulk sales here: not Evian, but whole lakes and aquifers bought and mined, rivers siphoned off, the Great Lakes themselves on the market. Barlow and others report that multinationals are ready to use supertankers, pipelines, canals, river rerouting, and other mammoth schemes to shift the product from the water-rich to those willing to pay top dollar:

jason324
5/1/2014 9:33:39 AM

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