CANADA: Losing Control of Water Through NAFTA and SPP

By Stephen Leahy

“The SPP (Security and Prosperity Partnership ) is like putting the monkeys in charge of the peanuts.”

[UPDATED Feb 12’08]

TORONTO, Sep 22 2007 (Tierramérica) – Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, Canada lost control over its energy resources. Now, with “NAFTA-plus”, it could also lose control over its freshwater resources, say experts.Canada’s water is on the trade negotiating table despite widespread public opposition and assurances by Canadian political leaders, said Adèle Hurley, director of the University of Toronto’s Programme on Water Issues at the Munk Centre for International Studies.A new report released Sep. 11 by the programme reveals that water transfers from Canada to the United States are emerging as an issue under the auspices of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP). The SPP — sometimes called “NAFTA-plus” — is a forum set up in 2005 in Cancún, by the three partners, Canada, United States and Mexico.

Economic integration as envisioned by the powerful but little-known SPP is slowly changing the lives of Canadians, says Andrew Nikiforuk, author of the report “On the Table: Water Energy and North American Integration“.

The SPP is comprised of business leaders and government officials who work behind the scenes and are already responsible for changes to border security, easing of pesticide rules, harmonisation of pipeline regulations and plans to prepare for a potential avian flu outbreak, Nikiforuk writes.

“The SPP is run by corporate leaders; governments are irrelevant,” said Ralph Pentland, a water expert and acting chairman of the Canadian Water Issues Council.

UPDATE: The Canadian Water Issues Council has written a model law to protect Canadian waters. For more see: Protecting Canada’s Water from the US

Pentland envisions a future where, in response to ongoing drought problems in the United States, the SPP will make arrangements to dole out millions of dollars of public funds for private companies to build pipelines to transfer water from Canada.

“The SPP is like putting the monkeys in charge of the peanuts,” he told Tierramérica.

Massive water diversions from Canada do not make economic or environmental sense, according to water experts. Far better and cheaper is to improve water efficiency and eliminate waste. The United States and Canada lead the world in water consumption and are extraordinarily wasteful, Pentland says.

Moreover, most of Canada’s water is in the far north, not near its border with the United States. And even the transboundary Great Lakes are at their lowest levels in 100 years due to climate change, notes Nikiforuk.

William Nitze, prominent member of the SPP and chairman of GridPoint Inc., a company that makes energy management systems, is not in favor of bulk water exports.

“Water management has been poor in all three countries,” Nitze said. Canada, for example, favors guidelines over mandatory rules for keeping pollutants out of water. And Mexico needs to double its investment in its water infrastructure, he noted.

CANADA: Losing Water Through NAFTA

5 thoughts on “CANADA: Losing Control of Water Through NAFTA and SPP

  1. The whole point that is being well covered up is that they think that moving water via conduits out of Canada, sidling the highway makes it CONTAINABLE, thus sellable, and not freestanding.

    There are 25 US states suffering from drought, who would gladly trade away their oppposition to the NAU (now called the SPP, for now) IF they could get some of that water. Only 13 US states have passed legislation against it.

    Now the real rub is that we need national sovereignty to ensure human rights to basic needs. This would be sacrified to “strategic” interests, which is code for keep the US mlitary/biz machine running at whatever cost it is to Canadian citizens.

    This corporate robots running the SPP, the Competitive Council are literally playing God, thinking that they and they alone (there’s been no outside consultation! just a promise came out at the time the media could spin it) know what is “best” for what . it’s now just some “commodity”. Water itself is a LIVING thing and WE have a relationship to it. But this isn’t about relationships, is it? Is about bold brutal theft from Canadian people and First Nations people.

    Clean water for all is a bottom line issue that the SPP will conveniently sidestep too. This government should be ashamed already; du is the precise reason that the Algonquins will not allow the du dumping in the Ottawa River which would be a hazard for anyone in that water table. They ain’t going anywhere anytime soon and this is going to be one great huge standoff or worse as things proceeed.

  2. This is amazing and valuable information. It just so happens that I’m the number two organizer of the S.P.P. protest here in Ottawa on Feb 16th. I decided a few days ago that the number issue on the minds of Canadians is the fate of our fresh water supply. The Government needs to come clean about the possibility of bulkwater exports to the U.S.

    I am a firm believer that this is not the right course of action. We need to convince the corporations that there is money to be made in investing in better technologies to refine and purify sea water as well as rain water and other sources as well. I also see that above all else, we need to become less wasteful as well. I would be very interested to here your feedback to this post, as I am in need of ideas for the protest. The more I know about the S.P.P. and it’s relation to the Canadian people and U.S. water shortages the better.

    I hope life is treating you well:

    Phillip Stephens, Activist

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