Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Mulcair's Environmental Record #1: Have the NDP Sprung a Leak?

On August 25,  1988;  then federal Minister of the Environment, Tom McMillan, tabled Bill C-156, in the House of Commons:  the Canada Water Preservation Act

The reason for the bill was to give teeth to an announcement made the year before, by the Mulroney government, that they would not consider large-scale water exports from Canada.  

Unfortunately an election was called on October 1, 1988, and the bill died on the Order Paper.

In my opinion, Canada has had three very good environmental ministers; two Conservative: Tom McMillan and Jean Charest; and one Liberal, Stephane Dion.

McMillan was not only known for his attempts to protect our water, but also for drawing attention to the damages caused by acid rain.   It's interesting to note that he also had a very eager assistant working in his department, who would go on to become a strong  voice on environmental protection. The assistant's name? Elizabeth May.

Fast Forward

So here we are, more than 25 years later, with the issue of bulk water sales, still not settled.

Maude Barlow, global water expert and NDP supporter, has been addressing this issue for years, more recently, as it pertains to the selling of Canada, with Harper's aggressive trade deals.

In a piece entitled  Why is Harper Selling Canada's Fresh Water Supply to French Companies?, she raises concern over the increase in meat exports, that will put a strain on our water supply, but also the proposed bulk water sales to France, under the new European trade agreement.
... this deal will give French companies Suez and Veolia, the two biggest private water operations in the world, access to run our water services for profit. Under a recent edict, the Harper government has tied federal funding of municipal water infrastructure construction or upgrading to privatization of water services. Cash-strapped municipalities can only access federal funds if they adopt a public-private partnership model, and several cities have recently put their water or wastewater services contracts up for private bids.
The NDP has always supported Barlow's endeavours, as have I.  However, if Thomas Mulcair were to become prime minister, she would assuredly find resistance in his government,

That's because Thomas Mulcair not only promoted the bulk sale of water, but often boasted, when he was Quebec Environment minister, that he helped to draft NAFTA.

From Le Devoir, June 15, 2004:  
The Quebec Minister of the Environment Thomas Mulcair questioned yesterday one of the pillars of the national water by reopening the door to bulk water export policy to create jobs in the regions, a door closed by Quebec by law after a public debate and a commission of inquiry.  
Yesterday morning invited as a speaker by the Unisféra International Centre of Montreal, the minister said he was ready to reopen the debate on this issue despite the election commitment of his party to fully respect the National Water Policy. The Quebec environment minister was asked to draw up the balance sheet of the management of environmental policies under NAFTA. 
"For water, said Thomas Mulcair, there is an important debate to be held on it." He says he does not share the fears of those like Maude Barlow, Council of Canadians, who believe governments will lose jurisdiction over the management of their water resources on the day they will set a precedent by making commercial goods, while giving precedence to the rules of free trade on their legislative and regulatory powers. 
"He doesn't share the fears of those like Maude Barlow"?  Well he should.

Further from the Montreal Gazette: Kevin Dougherty, June 16, 2004 
Environment Minister Thomas Mulcair doesn't understand why it is a "mortal sin" to export Québec water in bulk, while exports of bottled water are allowed .... 
"This isn't religion," Mulcair said in an interview....... "We'll make sure that we know the resource is being renewed," he said. "The big advantage of water over copper and zinc or iron is that once the metal comes out of the ground, it doesn't comb back. "With water, once you've taken it out, if you are doing it properly with appropirate permits and with appropriate supervision and scientific analysis, you can make sure that the resource is being renewed". 
André Bouthillier, président of the water-protection lobby Eau Secours!, called Mulcair's proposal "completely crazy ... it can take 3,000 years" for a body of water to renew itself. And since 1984, he said, Québec has had a water shortage. "
Not the first or last time that Mulcair would use pseudo-science to justify the privatization of a resource or promote a policy.  Gaeton Breton, author of Tu me water pumps - Stop privatization, said that Mulcair was talking through his hat.  They also challenged his notion that it would create jobs.

Many were actually surprised by the appointment of Mulcair, to the environment portfolio, in the first place. He had no science background and was a neoliberal.  They chose to take a wait and see attitude, but they came, they saw, and realized that they had been right not to trust him.

If he really thought that water would simply renew itself, he'd clearly spent too much time in the boardrooms and not nearly enough reading books and essays from people who knew what they were talking about.

This is just one example of the mess that Mulcair created in his post. Next topic will be the truth behind his much touted environmental protection as part of Quebec's Charter of Rights.

We need a change from Stephen Harper.  Not just more of the same.


  1. When running for leader Mulcair rejected bulk water exports.

    It good to see the all you can eat character assination continues from the Liberal party.

    Honestly you think Stephane Dion was anything, but failure as enviroment Minister tells me all I need to know about your judgement.

    1. He didn't reject them, only denied ever promoting it when asked by Paul Dewar. I watched the exchange.

  2. it is also telling that Mulcair actively dodges every pipeline question put to him...

  3. Your attacks on Mulcair are so boring. Need to put more heart into it. You know, the way junior plans to "grow the economy"...

    1. There are several ways including giving children up to $920.00 per month, non-taxable. More spending power grows the economy. Despite cherry picking, economists agree that if you grow the economy budgets will balance themselves.