Contaminated water on reserves: known since 2001
Date: Tuesday, November 01 2005
Since 1989 CANADA'S POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT NEWSWEEKLY Oct 31, 2005
The Hill Times, October 31st, 2005
By Angelo Persichilli
Libs have known about contaminated water reserves since 2001: Sen. Grafstein
Some Liberals say their own government has known about unsafe drinking water on native reserves in Canada since for at least four years.
Reacting to what some are calling a "national tragedy," the federal government announced last week it would build a new community for residents of Kashechewan in northern Ontario, but some Liberals say their own government has known about unsafe drinking water in native reserves across the country since 2001.
"I was told that the government would bring in a dynamic water policy to remedy this situation; that I should keep cool and await this new policy," said Toronto Liberal Sen. Jerry Grafstein last week. "Regretfully, that has not happened in four years."
On Aug. 22, 2001, former Toronto Liberal MP Dennis Mills had 300 bottles filled with contaminated water from an Indian reserve near Edmonton.
The Liberal caucus was having its semi-annual meeting in the city that summer, and Mr. Mills was hoping to send a message that his fellow MPs would not forget.
The Liberals stopped him from bringing in the water, but he still managed to make a statement.
On the head table, Mr. Mills managed to sneak in two bottles, right in front of then prime minister Jean Chrétien.
"One is filled with the water we are drinking, given to us from the hotel," he told Mr. Chrétien. "The other is the water that natives are drinking in the reserve not far away from here."
Mr. Chrétien was about to take a sip from the second bottle of brown, murky water before Mr. Mills stopped him.
"Sir, don't drink it, it is contaminated."