A strong coalition of Quebec water activists is defending public water from new attacks. Eau Secours ! is fighting plans for water P3s across the province, part of Jean Charests sweeping P3 plans. The coalition, which counts CUPE as a member, held a major cultural and political event in early December to kick off the battle.
Quebecs environment minister claims water wont be privatized, yet he is on record pushing P3s for water. The threat comes from Bill 62, which changes municipal powers to allow P3s in a number of areas, including the financing, management or operation of water systems for up to 25 years. Plans for an agency to push P3s will increase the pressure to privatize.
Eau Secours ! and other environmentalists are also challenging the governments nomination of William Cosgrove as the new head of the provinces environmental hearings agency, the Bureau daudiences publiques sur lenvironnement (BAPE).
Cosgrove is president of the pro-privatization World Water Council, and has spent years pushing water privatization around the world. In recent years the agencys work has strengthened the case for public water. A major BAPE report in 2000, the result of cross-province consultations, took a strong stand against water privatization and bulk water exports both policies the Charest government now wants to pursue.
Eau Secours ! says Cosgroves alignment with the water multinationals conflicts directly with the BAPEs mandate of environmental protection, and undermines the agencys hard-won credibility. Cosgrove is slated to take over the post in early January. Visit www.eausecours.org for background and updates on Quebecs fight for public water.