Friday, June 22, 2007

Water truckin'

You may remember Michael Byers as the UBC Global Politics and International Law Professor who asked prior to the last election why extraordinary rendition wasn't an election issue, and who also red-flagged our Afghan detainee transfer deal in the national press over a whole freakin year ago.
Byers has a book out - "Intent for a Nation : What is Canada for? " - and The Tyee has an excerpt :
"In 2004, the Canadian actor Paul Gross starred in a made-for-TV drama entitled H2O. Gross plays Tom McLaughlin, the charismatic son of a murdered Canadian prime minister, who takes over Canada at the behest of a group of international financiers eager to sell our fresh water to an increasingly thirsty United States."
Did you see this movie? I hadn't so I looked it up at IMDb.
Some of the user comments about the unlikelihood of the plot's basic premise were kind of sad.
At the time this movie aired, the GATT agricultural provisions regarding water were two decades old, and NAFTA, including the dreaded Annex Tariff Item 22.01: water: all natural water other than sea water, whether or not clarified or purified, had already passed its tenth birthday.
Five years before this movie was even a twinkle in CBC's eye, the NDP were standing on the floor of the HoC demanding a clarification on water sovereignty under NAFTA - and it was denied.
While conceding that Canada's legal control over her water is at the very least muddy, Byer warns against setting any bulk water trading precedents:

"A single act of trading water on a bulk basis would arguably transform the resource into a tradable good that was legally indistinguishable from softwood lumber, potash or oil, rendering subsequent attempts to prevent or limit further exports illegal. For this reason, it is imperative that Canada takes water off the free trade table, quickly and decisively -- now, before it's too late."

Well another attempt was made two weeks ago, this time in the form of a motion supported by all opposition parties asking the Cons to request a clarification from Mexico and the US on their position on Canada's water, and it was again denied.
Byers' excerpt concludes:

"On water, as on so many other issues, our conciliatory, don't-rock-the-boat approach to Canada-U.S. relations has failed. Unless we stand up for our own interests, Canadian fresh water could soon be irrigating crops, watering golf courses and filling backyard swimming pools in the south western United States.

It's time to dissuade Americans of the notion that we're going to rescue them from the consequences of their short-sighted, profligate ways by allowing them to mess with our environment, too. It's time to make it absolutely clear that bulk water exports are not covered by NAFTA. "

In the meantime, someone please let me know how that H2O movie turned out.
Tyee link from Jennifer at Runesmith's Canadian Content in comments at Creekside.

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