Saturday, May 29th, 2010
The, erm, faeces storm over JP Morgan’s control over sewage treatment in one Carolinian county should be enough of a preview into the way these deals go down to alarm any Canadian, free market loving or otherwise. The legitimacy of ownership of the commons really needs a lot more attention than it gets when it comes to water.
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Bruce Campion-Smith, Toronto Star
May 29, 2010
OTTAWA — Foreign companies would gain unprecedented access to municipal water services and perhaps even a claim to the water itself under the free trade deal now being negotiated between Canada and the European Union, a new report says.
While the federal government has touted the economic upsides of the trade pact, a legal analysis claims it will likely have big implications for municipalities by forcing them to open their contracts to European firms.
That’s the view of Canadian trade lawyer Steve Shrybman, who penned an opinion of the free trade talks for the Centre for Civic Governance, a Vancouver-based advocacy group.
The European Union has made a pointed request that drinking water services be included in the trade agreement, opening the door for big multinational firms to “stake” a claim in municipal water systems, he said.
“The objective of these large water conglomerates is to expand their Canadian markets by winning contracts to establish and/or operate water supply and waste water treatment facilities and services,” he writes in his opinion.
“The most serious threat to public ownership and control of water arises from the risk of private entities being able to establish a proprietary claim to the water itself,” the report says.