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Canada-Europe trade deal threatens public water in Canada

July 19, 2010

In a story, Meera Karunananthan, the national water campaigner at the Council of Canadians, discusses her trip to Brussels to campaign against the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA).

She discusses the threat CETA poses to the well-being and health of communities in Canada:

To be clear, European corporations already have access to Canadian municipal services. Winnipeg city council just voted in favour of a 30-year contract with French water corporation Veolia. But under CETA, the legal rights of these corporations would be entrenched in an international agreement. While chief negotiator Steve Verheuil failed to acknowledge the links, this would make it far more difficult for municipalities to resist privatization of Canada’s public drinking water systems or remunicipalize once a contract is signed with the private sector.

Meera notes that “municipalities or provincial governments seeking to implement conservation strategies allowing municipalities to promote local green jobs may be threatened under CETA” and quotes Steven Shrybman:

As Shrybman points out, plans like those of the Capital Regional District of British Columbia’s to establish sewage treatment facilities that promote environmental innovation by providing a market for Canadian environmental services would be challenged under CETA provisions that prohibit “procurement terms that would require any bidder to source environmental engineering services or technologies from Canadian providers.”

In addition, the concept of “regulatory expropriation,” inherent in NAFTA’s investor-state provisions allows corporations to challenge new policies that threaten profit. Such policies are deemed a form of expropriation through policy change. Strategies like Ontario’s proposed Water Opportunities and Conservation Act which also claims to have a dual purpose of promoting water conservation strategies at the municipal level while creating markets for Canadian green technology may be challenged once the rights of European water corporations are under CETA. Provisions of the act that require public agencies to include water conservation and innovation in their procurement practices would be an impediment to the profits of multinational water corporations.


Steven Shrybman