The Right to Water
Date: Tuesday, November 21 2006
Prime Minister Stephen Harper,
Please reverse the immoral position taken by the Liberal government when it rejected the recognition of water as a human right at the United Nations. Canadians want their government to show leadership on water issues by recognizing this human right and by taking an active role in dealing with the global water crisis. In Canada, despite our abundant water, your government has threatened our water security by not developing a new national water policy and by not exempting water from all trade agreements.
In 2002, Canada was the only member of the UN Commission on Human Rights to vote against recognizing water as a human right. Given our history and reputation as a country that supports human rights, I feel that our vote denying this most fundamental of rights is shameful. Millions of people are dying because of their lack of access to clean water and we cannot simply stand by and watch.
At home, Canada must adopt a binding national water policy that defends water as a human right and public trust. Given the tragedy in Walkerton, Ontario, Canadians recognize the importance of safeguarding our waters. Our existing national water policy is more than 15 years old and does not address our current water problems. A new national policy should reject the idea of water privatization and keep water services under public control.
Moreover, Canada must exempt water from trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization's General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Water must also not be a part of the upcoming Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Unless you act on this, we will lose control of this most precious resource and we will see our water commodified, exported and sold for profit at great risk to people and nature.
I await your reply and expect that your government will recognize water as a human right, introduce a new national water policy, and exempt water from all trade agreements.
[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on November 22, 2006]