PORT ALBERNI B.C.– The export of bulk water is a bad idea for Vancouver Island communities and should remain illegal, Port Alberni mayor Ken McRae said today, responding to a local Conservative candidate’s remarks on the issue.
“I am dead against the sale of bulk water for our community because export
has been a disaster,” said McRae. “Taking out bulk water is just like exporting raw logs.”
Conservative candidate James Lunney (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 repeated his support for bulk water exports on January 10.
McRae said that raw log exports hurt resource-dependent communities like Port Alberni by sending manufacturing and production jobs elsewhere. Bulk water exports, he said, can have a similar impact.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s Henderson Lake or Kennedy Lake,” he said. “Bulk exports will only commercialize a precious natural resource while making our communities even more vulnerable to the powerful U.S. lobby. If there’s going to be any export, it must be added value through bottled water to create jobs for the local community.”
CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill agreed, saying that Lunney and his leader, Stephen Harper, should heed the words of fellow Conservative and former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed, who last month called for a total ban on water sales to the U.S.
“Two-thirds of U.S. states will face water shortages within the next 10 years,” said O’Neill. “That means the Americans will soon be lobbying for huge exports of Canadian water. We need to be ready for this—for the U.S. to invoke NAFTA and threaten us with economic retaliation. Lougheed says we should give them ‘a strong, firm No Way’, and I couldn’t agree more. But Mr. Harper seems to have trouble saying ‘No’ to Uncle Sam.”