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At the outset they were asked, “What are you afraid of? Surely there’s nothing wrong with finding out what it would cost to have the private sector operate our wastewater plants.” In the end they were told: “We can’t back out now, after the private sector has spent so much preparing a bid. They’ll sue us for everything we’ve got.”

Ignoring concerns about cost and control, community and environmental impacts and trade implications, Halifax council — prodded on by senior city staff and lawyers – found themselves lacking the courage to turn back once they’d begun down the one-way road to privatization.

As a result, the water giant Suez won a major contract in Canada — and the citizens of Halifax will pay big-time for years to come.