To the Editor,
That water that cost you more than a dollar a bottle cost the company that pumped it in B.C. nothing.
Despite supposed longstanding intentions, the B.C. Ministry of the Environment has failed to update the 1909 Water Act to provide controls and costs to companies such as Nestle, Whistler Water and Mountain Springs for the B.C. water they sell back to us for 100 per cent profit. Why would this situation continue? Why the reluctance to charge for a valuable resource? Does it have anything to do with trade treaties?
Currently Eli Lilly, the multinational drug company is suing Canada under NAFTA for $500 million for the profits it says it will lose because Canada refused to renew two drug patents for drugs Canada deemed ineffective. U.S.-based Lone Pine Resources is suing Quebec for $250 million under NAFTA for “evocation of its right to mine for oil and gas” since Quebec imposed its moratorium on shale gas fracking in 2011 while it determined if there were dangers to the water supply. Windstream Energy is suing the Ontario Government for $475 million for enacting a moratorium on offshore wind developments. Canada has already paid $15 million to a Brazilian quarry builder as compensation for withdrawing permission to build a quarry in rural Ontario.
If the B.C. government starts to charge for water will we have another lawsuit on our hands for lost profits and how much will it cost taxpayers this time? Even if we eventually win, the heavy cost of litigation borne by taxpayers has a chilling effect on legislation meant to protect the public interest. It’s time we stopped calling these “free trade treaties” when they are really treaties that protect corporate rights at the expense of tax payers.
The Harper government is currently negotiating even more restrictive treaties. Corporate interests have become too powerful. It’s time our politicians remembered that they represent all the public not just one powerful sector.