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OTTAWA - More than 200 Canadians from across the country today ended the first national summit that will put water on the national agenda. With European multinationals poised to own drinking water and sewage treatment; with the federal government refusing to act on banning bulk exports; and with the second-highest water consumption rate in the world, delegates agreed the time to act is now.

“Were calling on the federal government to act,” said Judy Darcy, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. “Its too late once our water is privatized, when prices rise, the poor get cut-off and the environment suffers. But unless there is immediate federal assistance for municipalities in upgrading their systems, the Liberals will be partners in crime as Canadians are robbed of their most valuable resource.”

Darcy noted that a trillion litres of raw or partially treated sewage is dumped into Canadas water every year. With ecosystems already delicate, the environmental impact is potentially huge, leading the summit to adopt a policy of conservation as well as public ownership and operation of water.

“Canada cant keep up its current level of consumption,” said Peter Muldoon, executive director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association. “We must end water pollution immediately and set a goal of a 25% cut in water consumption by 2010”.

Muldoon said the proposed mass export of water, from lakes and rivers, would be an environmental disaster. With already alarmingly low water levels in the Great Lakes, allowing tankers or pipelines to ship Canadas water away is a dangerous prospect.

“Water is up for grabs despite Canadians wishes and the environmental truth,” said Maude Barlow, chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “The federal governments plan to ban bulk exports is full of holes it simply does nothing to prevent Canadas water becoming a commodity for export. We cannot afford to let trade deals do to water what they have done to gasoline additives like MMT. Canadians will never forgive the Liberals if they let our water drain away”, concluded Barlow.

For More Information:
Catherine Louli, CUPE (613) 851-0547
Jo Dufay, Council of Canadians
(613) 293-3783
Paul Muldoon, CELA
(613) 564-6397

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