Aug 252019

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In regard to the “Strathcona Resolution”  to stop the export of groundwater from B.C.

(NOTE:  Links to More history on Water Export is under HISTORY in the INDEX)

As at August 2019:

  • Ontario exports groundwater but is currently under a moratorium, triggered by drought and citizen opposition.
  • Newfoundland did have a moratorium, maybe still does?  – – in 1999, there was to have been bulk export of water from Gisborne Lake, Nfld.  A pipe would run to a proposed tanker terminal on the Atlantic coast.  Public opposition, negotiations with the Federal Govt and a deal NOT to export the water was signed.

I happened to have attended a seminar for entrepreneurs by the Federal Govt, in the middle 1990’s.  The seminar leaders told attendees that if you want to make money, you should get into water; I was dismayed, needless to say.  Gisborne Lake came after that.  So, Govt officials promoted the export of water, and then had to backtrack because of opposition.  But, before that . . .


The Resolution on export of groundwater is central in the history of the Trade Deals.

Canada signed the FTA  “at the 11th hour” because (as was told to Canadians) the U.S. would not sign a Trade Deal that contained an Exemption on Water. Canadians had insisted there was to be no trade in water.  The exemption was in the drafts leading up to the 11th hour.  Gone   from the final deal.

United States-Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA)

This agreement was signed by President Reagan and Prime Minister Mulroney on January 2, 1988 and, after implementing legislation was enacted in the United States and Canada, the Agreement entered into force on January 1, 1989. Its main purpose is to eliminate all tariffs on trade between the U.S. and Canada by January 1, 1998. The FTA was superseded by NAFTA on Jan. 1, 1994.

Canadians have laboured under the “11th hour” lie.  Today more documentation is accessible.  It was not the U.S. alone that wanted removal of the exemption. The Canadian Government, Chief Negotiator Simon Reisman and business interests were equally part of the force that brought about removal of the exemption on trade in water.


2008-02-17 Water: Highgate Dam in context of water shortages in the U.S.. Includes water under Free Trade Agreement  (Successful battle – stopped the Highgate Dam)

Following the election of Mulroney (1984), Simon Reisman sent the new prime minister a memo advocating free trade negotiations with the United States. Mulroney accepted Reisman’s plan and, in 1985, tapped him to lead Canada’s trade negotiations with the United States.

(Aside:  Mulroney was Prime Minister from Sept, 1984, to June, 1993.   Kim Campbell became leader when Mulroney stepped down, having become “the most unpopular prime minister in Canadian history” according to the Washington Post.  Arguably because of the Trade Agreements.)

– – – – – – – – –

 “To the Last Drop”, published in 1986, author Michael Keating: Simon Reisman was Canada’s chief negotiator for NAFTA under then-Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.  In a speech to influential business interests, Reisman said that the balance of power on the North American continent would shift because Canada has water that the U.S. wants.  All we have to do is to put a meter on a tap at the 49th parallel, and collect the royalties as the water flows south.  (Those would be dividends if you are an investor.)  The infrastructure costs seem insurmountable, but the Americans want the water; they’ll cover infrastructure costs.

(Infrastructure costs, at the time, for the export of water: “The Grand Canal” to divert water from James Bay (southern appendage to Hudson Bay) down through the Great Lakes to the eastern U.S.;  a series of dams to divert water from Lake Athabasca, northern Saskatchewan, south;  the “Rocky Mountain Trench” for diversion to California and other western states.)

OLDER:   The book, “Water and Free Trade”, excerpts on the internet, provides more details:  page 13,  Prior to being appointed Canada’s chief free trade negotiator, Simon Reisman was one of the most vocal advocates of proposals to sell Canadian water to the United States.

The book appears to cover most of the important bases for understanding the export of water?  The book also describes efforts in B.C. by business people who were opposed to the trade in water.   I did not know about the book until now  (Jan. 2019.  It came up in an internet search.  I haven’t read it.)

Whose interests in water were represented by our trade negotiator, Simon Reisman, and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney?  Monied interests, from both sides of the border.  As I say, this Resolution from Strathcona to stop groundwater export has connections to the first trade deals with the U.S. – – the TRADE IN WATER was to have been exempted.  With fox in the hen house?

Trade Deals have been used to try and leverage water out from under democratic control,

so “equity interests” can be created.

A clause on oil and gas in the Trade Deal applies also to water:

The Trade Deal established that if some percentage of our oil and gas is exported to the U.S., that same percentage has to be maintained, even if supplies are running short in the Canadian market. That’s a chilling thought if you live in Saskatchewan where temperatures can go to minus 40 degrees!  and minus 20 is not unusual.  The  logic?  If heating gas becomes limited, Saskatchewanians will just have to freeze;  the BBQ’s in Florida must perform.

It struck me: that’s not different from the British and French in the 1800’s, and the trading relationship with Indians (First Nations).   The homelands were enriched by that which prairie people were dependent upon for keeping themselves warm, fed and healthy (buffalo and beaver).  In the beginning, the First Nations did not understand that the markets they were supplying could never be satisfied.  The market was simply too large.

We know the results for First Nations people on the Prairies.  Impoverishment.  The same story is repeated time and again through history; only the place and the product are different.

Fast forward: the furs are gone. Then under the Trade Deals, we gave up control of a resource (oil and gas) we are dependent upon in a cold climate.  We are all “the Indians”, in terms of being manipulated by outside powers and their quislings, I concluded.   Then it was oil and gas; now it’s water.

Water export in today’s world, supported and promoted by the Federal Government, means

we lose control of a gift upon which we are dependent.


(For more information, do a web search on “trade deal exemption on water”.)


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