Tag Archives: Privatization

Water, Water Everywhere, but for How Long? Privatizing Water in BC


World Water Day (March 22nd) is a good time to consider this: Canada has nearly 10% of the world’s supply of fresh water. How lucky are we?

But what is all this water doing to earn its keep? Nothing. Or so think our politicians – and thirsty corporations like General Electric. 

In 2010, GE (according to Council of Canadians, the world’s largest water company) and Goldman Sachs (uh, oh) co-founded the World Resources Institute Aqueduct Alliance. The basic purpose of the alliance is to map (and presumably lay hands on) the global supply of fresh water. After all, as the alliance points out, “In many regions around the world, water scarcity from climate change and pollution is starting to impact a company’s performance.”

Within a year the expanded alliance included Coca-Cola, Calgary-based Talisman Energy, Dow Chemicals and United Technologies, the world’s 10th largest arms producer. (Knowing where water shortage conflicts might appear could, after all, be useful.) 

Oh, what a web these companies weave. 

In Alberta, the president of GE Canada was a member of the Premier’s Council for Economic Strategy which last year recommended the creation of a new Alberta Water Authority. The new authority would facilitate buying and selling of water licences. 

According to the council’s report, the authority would also advise on policy changes to give holders of water licenses more opportunity to sell, lease or trade some or all of their right to draw water. Such changes will allow licensees holding water allocations they are not currently using or no longer need to lease or sell this surplus to others within the watershed at a price set by market forces of supply-and-demand.” 

How bad could that be? 

Ask the government of Australia. In the 1990s exactly this sort of water market was established for the Murray Darling River Basin. A 2001 drought started a water-rights speculation frenzy. By September 2010, the Australian government had spent nearly $1.5 billion buying back water rights at inflated free market prices.  

Here in BC (where Talisman Energy already has a licence to divert up to 10,000 cubic metres (10 million litres) from the Williston reservoir every day for the next 20 years), similar plans are afoot.

The provincial government is expected to table a new Water Act in 2012. It is anticipated that the new Act will allow water licence owners (whatever the purported use licensed) to sell to the highest bidder. The new owner can arbitrarily change the licensed use from, say, agriculture to heavy industry. In a drought such as Australia’s, good luck to farmers who might need to buy water back. 

Welcome to the deregulated water market. 

Companies like Brookfield Asset Management (BAM) love it. BAM, one of two companies which shared ownership of most of BC’s public land forests and all the private land forests, is keen to get into the hydroelectricity game. (FYI, BAM director J. Trevor Eyton is also a director of Coca-Cola Enterprises.) 

We sell them the rights to our water and they sell us their electricity. No wonder EcoJustice describes BC’s proposed Water Act as a pretty sweet deal for industry.

Yes, of course most industries require water and, within reason, they should have access to it. However, instead of turning our water rights into tradable commodities, how about we maintain control of our water for the public good?

Here’s a crazy idea for World Water Day. Industries could pay for the water they use by volume. Companies might decide to reduce the water they currently waste and that would be a bonus. Whether or not they do, the people of BC could be paid a fair fee for a precious resource. Instead of paying for corporate bonuses, the money could, oh, I don’t know, pay for health care and education? Perhaps some of the revenue could be used to upgrade our crumbling infrastructure.  

Or we could carry on with plans to more or less just give our water rights away.

Miranda Holmes is an associate editor of Watershed Sentinel magazine. For more information on this topic, go to www.watershedsentinel.ca/content/ge-and-privatization-water






Abbotsford Councillor Patricia Ross Takes Stand Against Water Privatization


Read this story from TheTyee.ca on Abbotsford Councillor Patricia Ross’ brave stand against a private model for water services in her community being pushed by the town’s mayor and others.

“Ross is the sole incumbent to oppose a public-private partnership
(P3) that would see the private design, build, partial finance and
operation of a water works project in Mission’s Stave Lake, a contract
of 25 years. Originally a partnership with neighbouring Mission as a way to address future water shortages, in April the district dropped out of applying for a federal P3 grant for the project, in the wake of strong public opposition.

To Ross, Abbotsford broke a ‘gentleman’s
agreement’ by going ahead with the P3 without the partnership of
Mission. But she has other concerns, including the private operation of
the water system, cost uncertainties, and what she sees as the lack of
choice given to the public in the matter — concerns shared by other
opponents, including some new council hopefuls.” (Nov. 10, 2011)

Read full article: http://thetyee.ca/News/2011/11/10/Abbotsford-P3-Deal/


Italian Referendum Victory: No! to Nuclear Power and Privatized Water


From Counterpunch.org – June 14, 2011

by Michael Leonardi

After an inspiring mass
mobilization of people across Italy with demonstrations of all kinds:
banner drops, critical mass bike rides, workshops, information booths,
film screenings, use of the social networking and facebook, people
running nude through the streets, flash mob die-ins, young people living
confined in a giant rendition of a radioactive drum for over a month,
and a door to door, neighbor to neighbor, person to person grassroots
storm, the Italian people have won a historic vote against the forces of
global capitalism and privatization to ban the construction of Nuclear
Power plants now and forever, to keep or return Water resources to
public ownership and to Prosecute the criminal behavior of political
leaders — first and foremost Silvio Berlusconi.

Italians managed to overcome the daunting task of a
quorum of 50 per cent + 1 of all Italian voters in the face of a mass
media controlled by Berlusconi and a government that was encouraging
voters to go to the beach instead of vote on the first weekend of summer
vacation for Italian grade school, middle school and high school
students. The quorum had not been reached for over a decade on any
referendum. This time the Italian people responded with 57 per cent of
the voters turning out to the polls, the highest on any referendum in
over 20 years, and with the quorum being surpassed in every region of
the country. 95 per cent of the voters have voted “SI” to say No as the
Italian winds of change have grown to gale force.

The vote began on Sunday morning and by mid-day the
results showed that only around 10 percent of voters had responded
nationally. There was a frenzy of activity in every town and city, on
the streets, in the coffee bars, in the town squares, on the beaches,
everywhere! The proponents of the referendums threw all caution to the
wind as they called to every passerby to go to the polls and not let
this important opportunity to express our collective democratic voice
pass by. This was an incredible mobilization that had a domino effect,
as students, families and co-workers pushed one another to make the
democratic process function for the people once and for all. Flags
sprung up on balconies, stickers on the windows of busses and walls of
the metros, with bicyclists up and down the coasts whistling and
shouting to get out the vote. By 7 o’clock on Sunday the attendance at
the polls was up to 30 per cent. The depression of the morning gave way
to a nervous feeling that maybe it really was possible that the quorum
could be reached. People went to the phones and text messages and
continued to hit the streets contacting and calling out to everyone to
let them know that they could be that one vote to tip the scales. 

The polls closed on Sunday at 10 o’clock and by that
time voter turnout was reported at 41 per cent, the quorum was well
within reach. 25 towns and cities out of over 8000 had already reached
the quorum and the predictions were that the last 10 per cent could be
reached on Monday. Being so dominated by the Catholic church, the word
miracle started to spring forth from people’s lips as a nervous and
incredulous tension continued to build. The government still had some
tricks up its sleeve. It was rumored that they might not count the votes
from Italians living abroad on the nuclear question. It was said that
we needed to arrive to at least 52 or 53 per cent of the vote to ensure
the Quorum and not just 50 per cent+1, would it be possible? Rome was in
a stir of activity, and people there were convinced saying that they
hadn’t felt this kind of energy in the streets since the student
uprisings of 1968.  In the region of Calabria, the only region that
voted for Berlusconi’s right wing coalition in the municipal elections,
the activists were more cynical. Would they be the downfall of the
quorum for the country? While nationally the turnout was at 41 per cent
Calabria was only at 30 and the tension was palpable. On Monday the
Italian people responded and even in Calabria! We surpassed the 50 per
cent + 1 and sailed to 57 per cent, overcoming any possibility that the
votes from abroad could change the outcome.

Italy was overcome with joy. The leader of the
Italian of Values Party Antonio Di Pietro, who launched the petition
drives for the referendums on Nuclear Energy and Legitimate Impediment
held a press conference to express his pride and contentment with the
outcome of this historic vote, stating that “this was a victory of the
Italian People and not of the Political Establishment,” and again
calling for Berlusconi to resign from power. The hundreds of local
committees and local, regional and national organizations erupted in
celebrations in piazzas across the country. The main party was held in
Rome and symbolically took place in front of the Roman monument known as
the Bocca Della Verita’ / The Mouth of Truth.

While the national media reported the election
results with the usual mouthpieces from Berlusconi’s government and the
Opposition Democratic Party, the message from the piazzas and il popolo
Italiano / the Italian people was clear, this was a victory of, by and
for the people and not under the banner or any of the political party of
the current political caste. As Marco Bersani of the organization ATTAC
Italia said, “it is time to change the discourse in Italy. This was not
a victory of any of the major political parties but should be
recognized as a clear signal that Italians are fed up with the
ineptitude of the political leadership in the country and are ready for
direct democracy to confront the serious issues affecting the

This victory should not only be seen in the context
of the Italian political landscape but also in its significance for the
rest of Europe and the world. Italians have voted Yes to say no to the
privatization of water resources. Many of Italy’s water resources are
already poorly managed by multinational corporations and now Italians
have decided that water as a primary resource should be controlled and
managed publicly. Yesterday at Napoli’s celebration rally, the renegade
Italian priest Alex Zanotelli reiterated that “all life comes from
water, water is the mother of our existence and it must not be the
multinationals that decide how it should be managed and distributed, but
the people of the world. We must join together to build human
relationships and to create a network of direct democracy to protect
Water and other public goods from exploitation.” The Italian decision to
say no to the privatization of water is an challenge to the European
parliament, the G8 and the IMF  that are threatening the privatization
of all public resources in the face of the growing debt crisis facing
the Global Economy. Italy now stands alone as the first European country
to take this step against the forces of privatization.

Italy’s decision to ban the production of nuclear
energy is a signal to the nuclear industry that its time of disastrous
profiteering at the expense of our and our children’s future is coming
to an end. Italians are now calling for a democratic and just national
energy plan that puts renewable energy first. The mass movement of
citizens is tired of the business as usual politics dominated by the
energy giants and the pressure from the U.S. government to become a
nuclearized nation. The people are demanding a diffuse and safe energy
production plan that utilizes the abundant sunshine and winds for which
Italy is noted and that can help provide thousands of needed jobs for
young people left out of the economic shell game dominated by the
corrupt business class.  

Italians have also decided that elected politicians
should not be protected from prosecution while in office and that the
law should be applied equally for everyone. This vote eliminates the
Berlusconi government’s decree called Legitimate Impediment which
allowed office holders, and especially Berlusconi himself, to be excused
from appearing in court.

The winds of change are blowing strongly now in
Italy and there is a renewed hope and belief that another world really
is possible. Let’s hope that the people of the world take inspiration
from this new dawn in Italy and join in this global struggle against
privatization, nuclear energy and government corruption. Here the people
realize that despite this historic victory, the struggle has only just

Michael Leonardi splits his time between Ohio and Italy. He can be reached at mikeleonardi@hotmail.com.

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Vancouver Sun Op-ed: Water is a gift for all, not a commodity to be sold


From the Vancouver Sun – June 11, 2011

by Barry O’Neil – CUPE BC President

It has always been my belief that one of the greatest
responsibilities of leaders is to protect the people they represent, to
act as their watchdog -always on the alert. A watchdog that falls
asleep on the job is a failure. But what words can describe the watchdog
that fights to let the enemy in?

One of the threats facing
communities today is the ambitions of large multinational water
corporations to operate water for profit in the context of a world where
water shortages are the way of the future, as global freshwater demand
is set to outstrip supply by 40 per cent in the next 20 years, and water
is rapidly becoming the new gold.

The world’s largest water
multinationals, such as Suez and Veolia, are based in Europe and their
European Union representatives are now negotiating a trade agreement
with Canada, called the Canada-European Comprehensive Trade Agreement,
that gives them unprecedented access to Canada’s water and waste water
systems, securing them with investor rights to trump (including suing
for lost profits) local government decisions that may negatively affect
corporate profit.

This trade deal is expected to be signed in
January 2012 and its immediate effect will be to lock in all water and
waste water privatizations and make “re-municipalization” or
contracting-in virtually impossible. In other words, once you privatize
your water services, there is no going back. I encourage everyone to
witness Europe’s disastrous experiment with water privatization at the
hands of these very corporations and the ensuing wave of
re-municipalization sweeping the continent, which is welldocumented and
told by the mayors and councillors themselves in a new documentary
titled Water Makes Money.

The Canadian way has always been to
operate our water as a public trust and to keep it in public hands;
today, almost all municipalities operate their own quality water and
waste water treatment systems with their own highly trained staff.

is because, historically, public operation of such vital services has
been found to be most cost-effective, transparent and accountable to the
public since there are no corporate privacy and profit interests

This past weekend, I joined hundreds of local government
councillors, mayors, regional district representatives, senior staff
officials and many others from coast to coast at a national conference
hosted by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in Halifax, N.S. We
gathered to share ideas, exchange experiences and get a chance to see
new models, ideas and technology that could make our communities better
places to live.

At this conference I made myself available to
speak with municipal leaders about the common challenges we face and how
we can work together to resolve them, and enjoyed countless productive
discussions. There was, however, one notable exception.

exception was Mayor George Peary of Abbotsford. Before a stunned
national audience at a Federation workshop, he embarrassed his community
and council representatives with an aggressive rant about the
organization that represents his own city workers. This rant exhibited
disdain for the people who provide Abbotsford’s vital civic services as
well a profoundly anti-democratic attitude.

does Peary justify standing up before national municipal leaders to
seek support for his desire to “stop CUPE from going to public meetings
and speaking into microphones?”

Why would any mayor in a
democratic country want to stop his city workers and their organization
from expressing their opinion on any matter, let alone a matter of grave
public concern, such as the privatization of their water services?

Canada, CUPE works constructively with municipal councils to strengthen
public services, increase efficiencies, improve service and reduce
costs. In fact, Abbotsford’s councillors thanked CUPE repeatedly for the
research and counsel they provided on the proposed P3 water project
after CUPE delivered a research presentation that was centred on helping
the council reduce costs and save taxpayers’ dollars.

In light of
this, how does Peary justify standing up at this national forum and
accusing CUPE of telling “lies” and being “ideological” and “irrational”
about P3s? His time would be better spent examining himself for these

It is not surprising that he did not find a single
supporter in the room. Even the proponents of P3s, who were hosting the
event , seemed taken aback by his disrespect for the organization to
which his own employees belong.

Municipal leaders, like all
elected officials, have a duty to represent and protect their people and
their vital public services -not to open the city gates and fight on
behalf of the profit interests of multinational water corporations whose
yearly revenue alone could meet all of Canada’s water infrastructure
needs for the next century.

Water is a gift upon which all life
depends, not a commodity to be delivered for profit to paying customers.
Access to fresh, clean and affordable drinking water is a basic human
right that ought to be guaranteed by a watchdog that barks for the

Barry O’Neill, CUPE national general vicepresident and
president of CUPE British Columbia, represents over half a million
public sector workers across the country and 85,000 workers in B.C.

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AbitibiBowater NAFTA settlement has privatized Canadian water, trade committee hears


From The Council of Canadians – March 8, 2011

Ottawa – The record-setting $130-million NAFTA settlement with
AbitibiBowater has effectively privatized Canada’s water by allowing
foreign investors to assert a proprietary claim to water permits and
even water in its natural state, says trade lawyer and Council of
Canadians board member Steven Shrybman, in a presentation to Parliament

“It would be difficult to overstate the consequences of
such a profound transformation of the right Canadian governments have
always had to own and control public natural resources,” says Mr.
Shrybman in his presentation to the Standing Committee on International
Trade, which is studying the AbitibiBowater NAFTA settlement from last

“Moreover, by recognizing water as private property,
the government has gone much further than any international arbitral
tribunal has dared to go in recognizing a commercial claim to natural
water resources.”

In 2008, AbitibiBowater, a Canadian firm
registered in the United States, closed its pulp and paper mill in
Grand Falls-Windsor, NL. The company asserted rights to sell its
assets, including certain timber harvesting licenses and water use
permits. These permits were contingent on production. More importantly,
under Canada’s constitution they are a public trust owned by the
Province, not by private firms. So the Newfoundland government moved to
re-appropriate them as it has a right to do under Canadian law.
AbitibiBowater sidestepped the courts to challenge the Newfoundland

“The case clearly put the concept of water as a public
trust on a direct collision course with treaty-based corporate and
commercial rights. However, rather than defend public ownership and
control of water, the federal government has agreed to settle
AbitibiBowater’s claim,” says Mr. Shrybman. “By stipulating that the
payment of compensation is on account of rights and assets, the
government of Canada has explicitly acknowledged an obligation to
compensate AbitibiBowater for claims relating to water taking permits
and forest harvesting licenses.”

By settling with the company rather than
challenging its case, we have no response from the federal government
to refute the company’s proprietary claims to water and timber rights,
explains Mr. Shrybman. The settlement also fails to identify the
particular rights for which compensation will be paid, and makes no
attempt to exclude any of the company’s claims, “thereby acknowledging
the validity of the claims.”

“Moreover, by recognizing a proprietary
claim to water taking and forest harvesting rights, Canada has gone
much further than any international tribunal established under NAFTA
rules, or to our knowledge, under the rules of other international
investment treaties,” he says.

A statement by the government that the settlement shall
not set a precedent is “entirely ineffective,” because of NAFTA’s
National Treatment clause which grants foreign companies treatment no
less favourable than national companies in like circumstances.

“It is not therefore an overstatement to describe the
consequences of this settlement as effectively representing a
coup-de-grace for public ownership and control of water and other
natural resources with respect to which some license or permit had been

Shrybman suggests water takings by tar
sands operations in Alberta, a golf course in Ontario or a water
bottling plant in Quebec are other examples of where even a partial
recovery of water rights by the provinces could detrimentally affect
business. If any of these companies were foreign owned they could claim
compensation on the same terms granted AbitibiBowater.


The Council of Canadians strongly believes there is no
place in existing or future trade agreements for such overstretching
investment protections. It has repeatedly called on the federal
government to reopen NAFTA to remove the investor-to-state dispute
process. The Council also recently joined several other Canadian
organizations in writing to all members of the European Parliament
urging them to reject the inclusion of NAFTA-like investment
protections in the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement
(CETA), which could be signed by the end of the year.

Read original press release


Briony Penn: Wham BAM, thank you TAM – Who Really Owns BC?


From Focus Online – Feb, 2011

by Briony Penn

Wham BAM, thank you TAM

Corporate mergers raise questions about who really owns BC

I used to report on the colourful species that inhabit this part
of the world, but those articles are diminishing with their populations.
Now I’m as likely to report on the colourful CEOs of companies who are
doing their best to liquidate these last “distressed assets.” It’s quite
a challenge, as one has to be able to follow the ever-changing mergers,
selloffs and vertical integrations that the big players concoct through
Byzantine-like structures and deals. 

One also has to be able to remember three-word acronyms which often
change. To follow the money in this region right now, the most important
ones to be aware of are BAM and TAM. Look out your window anywhere from
Crofton to Sooke and you’ll be gazing at a piece of real estate owned
in some fashion by BAM or TAM.

Mr Martin J. Whitman, the founder of Third Avenue Management (TAM),
runs his empire out of New York; a few of its minor assets have included
Western Forest Products, Timberwest, and Island Timberlands through
 associations with another roving predator of distressed companies,
Brookfield Asset Management (BAM) under CEO Bruce Flatt. 

TAM and BAM form a many-headed hydra that has been devouring most of
the private forestlands on southeast Vancouver Island. These distressed
asset managers live in the skyscrapers of New York and Toronto from
which they “manage” thousands of hectares of forest in the Capital
Region. We rely on these forests for water and are now having to buy
them back from BAM/TAM at great expense.

If you travel around British Columbia, you’ll gaze upon many other
TAM assets. In fact, fully one quarter of BC’s public harvesting
rights—over 10 million cubic metres of Crown forest—are now under TAM’s
controlling interest through their acquisition of huge chunks of BC’s
biggest forest and pulp companies, including Canfor and Catalyst. As
pressures to privatize crown assets continue, the companies with
existing leases to resources will be best poised to secure title to the
land underlying those resources.

TAM, working alongside Jimmy Pattison (who is also a board member of
BAM), has majority share ownership in Canfor. Pattison and Whitman
joined together in 2007 to vote in their own slate of directors,
including TAM men like Amit Wadhwaney, an ex-Domtar forest products
analyst who heads up the TAM International Value Fund, and Ian Lapey,
Whitman’s future successor (they are not on the board now, though
Pattison is). The same sort of thing went on with Catalyst. The typical
pattern is: close down facilities, consolidate, liquidate assets, avoid
taxes (as happened in Crofton), try and exert influence on the political
system, wait out the process of privatization and then sell.

Whitman’s investment mantra is “Safe and Cheap.” He coined it after
the war when he discovered there was a lot of money to be made buying
distressed companies in sectors hit by recession; liquidating and
consolidating; then waiting it out for the rising market. The philosophy
is stated this way on TAM’s website: “We believe the cheaper you buy,
the greater the potential investment reward and the cheaper you buy, the
less the inherent risk.” 

What was Whitman’s inspiration? His biography states: “When he
encountered a timber company rich with assets [aka forests] but no
visible earnings power he realized there was a better way.” One assumes
the “better way” is to liquidate the forests prior to selling the land
when real estate prices are rising. In southeast Vancouver Island, there
has never been so much timber removed from these forests so quickly. 

We shouldn’t be surprised that our province attracts such companies.
Who could resist British Columbia, a great little banana republic on the
doorstep of America that meets all those great investment criteria?
Safe? For sure, there are no Zapatistas here. And cheap? Once you’ve
creamed the forest off the top, you have free real estate that can be
sold. Moreover, we have a provincial government that seems easily swayed
by corporate investors.

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England’s Forest sell-off: ‘People power’ forced U-turn, say campaigners


From The Guardian – Feb 17, 2011

Campaigners have hailed the “people power” which has forced the government to abandon plans to privatise England’s public forests.

The news that Caroline Spelman, the environment secretary, would announce a halt to the consultation into proposals to sell thousands of hectares of woodland was welcomed by grassroots campaigners and conservation charities.

David Cameron heralded the about-turn at prime minister’s questions yesterday, when he stated bluntly that he was unhappy with the policy.

The proposals put out for consultation last month detail measures to dispose of up to 100% of England’s 258,000 hectare public forest estate, which is currently managed by the Forestry Commission, over the next 10 years.

They included a £250m sale of leaseholds for commercially valuable forests
to timber companies, measures to allow communities, charities and even
local authorities to buy or lease woods and plans to transfer well-known
“heritage” woods such as the New Forest into the hands of charities.

But the proposals attracted cross-party opposition and sparked a public outcry, with critics arguing they threatened public access and wildlife.

Campaign group 38 Degrees started a Save Our Forests petition which attracted more than 532,000 signatures.

Babbs, executive director, said: “Some people say signing petitions and
emailing MPs never changes anything, but it did this time.

is what people power looks like, and over half a million of us are
feeling very proud of what we’ve achieved together today.

“We will
keep watching David Cameron to make sure he keeps his word. But right
now it looks like fantastic news for all of us who want to keep our
forests safe in public hands for future generations.”

The Woodland Trust welcomed the U-turn but warned the campaign to protect and restore England’s ancient forests must go on.

Holden, chief executive of the trust, said: “While we welcome the
removal of threats to public access, there is still an acute need for
better protection of ancient woodland, our equivalent of the
rainforests, and restoration of ancient woods planted with conifers.

have made strong commitments over the past few weeks to increase
protection for ancient woods, and we will be holding them to these

“We must not let public passion and support for our
woods and forests die down and now that ownership is no longer an issue,
we must not lose sight of the need to increase protection for ancient
forests and restore those planted with conifers, a once in a lifetime
opportunity for woodland conservation.”

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General Electric’s hydra-headed lobbying effort in BC


From the Public Eye Online – Feb 8, 2011

The world’s second largest company has
registered to the lobby the government on a cornucopia of subjects.
General Electric Co. is perhaps best known in provincial political
circles for having partnered
with run-of-the-river, solar and wind energy producer Plutonic Power
Corporation Inc. So it’s not surprising the company’s Canadian
subsidiary is targeting the province’s “wind development program” and
“renewable energy opportunities” as part of its lobbying effort. But General Electric
– which hosted two receptions at the government’s BC Showcase during
the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and donated $15,470 to the Liberals
between 2005 and 2009 – is also planning to talk about:

* technology, services and strategies aimed at helping clients “significantly reduce the cost” of healthcare and design futuristic hospitals. That lobbying comes a year after the government committed to a new agenda that “expands innovation in health delivery” – a commitment Liberal leadership candidates Christy Clark and Kevin Falcon share.

* the government’s policies with “respect to sustainable mining
energy-renewable shale gas development.” General Electric’s products
include “comprehensive air quality solutions” for mining operations, as well as a new “mobile evaporator” that lets natural gas producers recycle untreated waste water created by fracking. Three years ago, the company also partnered with Rio Tinto PLC to “develop the most energy efficient and ecologically friendly solutions to support the future of mining;”

* the development of a policy “targeted at buy (sic) power from
greenhouse into grid (sic).” Two years ago, in a North American first,
Great Northern Hydroponics Ltd. opened
a General Electric-designed greenhouse cogeneration plant that
generates onsite power and sells the surplus to the local grid under a
20-year contract with the Ontario Power Authority; and

* the government’s policy with “respect to solutions for offgrid
(sic) communities.” Last month, General Electric Canada president and
chief executive officer Elyse Allan announced
the launch of an initiative “to gain greater insight into shaping the
growth of Canada’s remote community economies and the decisions being
made by global and national businesses to invest in these communities.”

General Electric Canada has yet to respond to a request for comment placed yesterday.

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Environmental groups raise alarm over scheme to bottle water from more than 40 B.C. streams!


From the Times-Colonist – Feb 7, 2011

by Judith Lavoie

A deluge of connected applications to extract water for bottling —
from more than 40 streams around four remote inlets on the B.C. Central
Coast — has prompted a flurry of requests for a full provincial
environmental assessment.

The applications, now individually under
consideration by the Natural Resource Operations Ministry, envisage
taking about 112,000 litres a day from each of the streams. The water
would then be barged to Vancouver and bottled.

“With 40 or more
streams involved that’s an industrial operation by anyone’s definition,”
said Lannie Keller of the Friends of Bute Inlet.

“But that ministry is looking only at each individual application and not the entire project.”

three numbered companies and two First Nations — the Kwiakah First
Nation of Campbell River and Da’naxda’xw Awaetlala of Alert Bay — are
named on the applications, the common thread is William Chornobay of
Langley, who could not be contacted Monday.

“They are all part of a
single scheme,” said Arthur Caldicott, an energy analyst and writer who
has researched the applications for the publication Watershed Sentinel.

a unique phenomenon. We’ve never seen anything like it before, even
during the boom in bottled water in 2007. . . . We have no idea how
these are being assessed by government,” he said.

Between 60 and
70 water-use licences have been issued by the province in the past, but
many have either been abandoned or are not fully used, Caldicott said.

All recent applications are around Jervis, Toba, Bute and Knight inlets.

As the applications are connected, the cumulative environmental effects —
rather than the effects of individual withdrawals — need to be studied,
say the Campbell River Council of Canadians, Friends of Bute Inlet,
Sierra Club Malaspina, Sierra Club Quadra Island and Sunshine Coast
Conservation Association. All have asked Environment Minister Murray
Coell for an environmental assessment.

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