CUPE condemns bulk water exports in wake of Vancouver Island candidate’s comment
BURNABY – The Canadian Union of Public Employees is calling on Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper to reverse his party’s position on bulk water exports after a Conservative candidate on Vancouver Island showed enthusiastic support for the idea at an all-candidates meeting.
James Lunney, the Conservative candidate for Nanaimo-Alberni, was asked on December 12 what his party would do to legalize the sale of bulk water. He replied that “there are big opportunities selling water,” including bulk, and spoke of capturing a percentage of the world water market. Lunney, who accused those who oppose developing a water export market of using “emotional rhetoric,” repeated his support for bulk water exports at an all-candidates meeting on January 10.
CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill, condemning Lunney’s comments, says that Stephen Harper owes it to Canadians to confirm the party’s position on bulk water exports before January 23.
“We can only assume that these comments reflect the policy of the Conservative Party,” says O’Neill. “In this, the party is really out of touch. Public opinion research done by Ipsos-Reid in November found overwhelming support for water management and services to remain public. People don’t want their water commercialized.”
O’Neill and others are urging voters to challenge Conservative candidates on the issue for the remainder of the election campaign.
“Island residents, British Columbians and Canadians understand that water is a precious resource that should not be bought and sold to the highest bidder,” says Island Water Watch campaign chair and CUPE 401 president Rodger Oakley.
At 10:30 this morning, Oakley will attend a press conference on the issue. Also in attendance will be representatives from the Council of Canadians, the Oceanside Coalition for Strong Communities, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development & Peace, and KAIROS.