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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Left over water

The federal NDP said a few days ago that "access to clean water is not a privilege but a human right for all Canadians." But, if it's a human right for Canadians, and if the NDP believes that human rights transcend borders (and I'm pretty sure the party does, indeed, believe this), then shouldn't the party also believe that access to clean water is a human right for all citizens of the world? But if this is the case, then why does the NDP continue to so vociferously oppose the export of Canada's water resources?

I'd say the left is mightily confused on the water issue. On one hand, they talk about the brotherhood of man and universal human rights, but on the other they're nationalist and protectionist.

Latest head-scratcher comes from Maude Barlow, ultra-left chair of the Council of Canadians, who has just criticized the Harper government for opposing a UN motion that would have declared that access to clean water is a basic human right. And, yes, this is the same Maude Barlow who goes ballistic whenever there's talk of exporting water to the U.S.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on March 26, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink

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Comments

>"In 2003-2004, China was the largest export market for Canadian wheat with an estimated value of $400 million. For 2004-2005, Canadian wheat exports to China are forecast at about 2 million tonnes (Mt), slightly higher than 2003-2004."

>"Water shortages, such as those in China, are becoming global, crossing national boundaries via the international grain trade. Countries facing water shortages often import water in the form of grain. Since it takes 1,000 tons of water to produce 1 ton of grain, this is the most efficient way to import water."

Unless Maude Barlow is against exporting water in the form of grain to China, we should be clear to export water to the U.S.

I'm guessing she probably isn't.
Maybe it's that "value added" thing with the water being used to grow grain first.

The solution is obviously that Canada should export more beer to the U.S.
8oD

Posted by: Speller | 2008-03-26 5:36:34 PM


Terry: "But if this is the case, then why does the NDP continue to so vociferously oppose the export of Canada's water resources?"

Is this really a genuine question? I find it hard to believe that you don't really know the answer. This especially because the article you link to explains it quite clearly. It says, "Access to water is a fundamental right and therefore should not be treated as a commodity in trade agreements." The NDP position, then, is that trade agreements are bad not because it would mean water going to the US. They are bad because water should be protected from the distribution system that results from the free market. Just as they oppose a free market for other things we have a right to, like education and health care.

Now having cleared up your confusion, please feel free to have at them for not thinking that the free market can best ensure that we all get the water (and education and health care) that we have a right to. Or have at them for thinking that all these things are things we have a right to.

All that is fair criticism. But if you think they have committed a logical contradiction in their position by thinking water is a human right and opposing a trade deal, then you just are not being fair.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-03-26 6:06:20 PM


It's good to have you back on the Shotgun, Fact Check.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-03-26 6:17:50 PM


This is another fine example of socialists confusing positive rights and negative rights.
I got the following from a website

www.mycanadawest.com


Rights, true rights, are limited to those rights that when put into practice do not trample on other people’s rights. My right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins.
My right to own and use my property, practice my religion, speak my mind, associate with whom I please and be the sole beneficiary of my labor does not require any action on anyone else’s part, other than to be left alone by them. These are called "negative rights".
So called rights like the right to medical care, housing, food, education, etc. when put into practice require action on the part of others. These are called "positive rights".
For example, if housing is indeed a right, (separate the "right to housing" from the "right to own housing" or any other property, two very different things) then how does this housing come into being? I would have to assume that the government would seize other people’s wealth/property to pay for this "right to housing".
The essential problem is that others are being asked (forced) to pay for this right to housing. This paying by others is a violation of their rights. The government violates their property rights by seizing their property to pay for the free housing. This is a violation because it limits their right to use and enjoy their property as they see fit. Obviously if your property is seized by the government it is tough to use and enjoy it as you see fit, not true?


I think this argument applies to the "right to clean water"

Posted by: John H. | 2008-03-26 7:28:16 PM


"I'd say the left is mightily confused on the water issue."

But this comes from their confusion on just about everything. These folks don't operate on the basis of logic and reason, they are all about feelings, envy and control.

My observations of live on planet Earth tell me that there are no rights to anything. You can say there is and you can pretend there are such rights. You can even believe that the state has the power and benevolence to provide and protect your imaginary rights.

Now here's the reality. Many of us on this planet have the opportunity to acquire clean water and health care etc. That generally applies to those folks lucky enough to have been born in or had immigrated to a country that has the ability to produce those commodities.

Things like clean water and health care are made available by those who are motivated to do so. If they are unmotivated as they are in many places, then you don't get any and I don't care what you think your rights are, you just simply don't get any. It will just be available.

What is the motivation to provide the commodities that we 'feel' we have a 'right' to? Profit!

It is the reward one gets either in the form of cash or wages so they too can purchase their rightful share of those commodities.

What is required to provide the motivation for those who will produce and supply those rightful commodities.

A system that rewards the individuals who make the effort to do so.

What do you call such a system?

Democratic, Capitalist.


Places that don't have that system in place are always short on commodities of every kind. We send them lot's of aid, but don't insist they change their ways in order that someday we can stop paying them for being so ... what's word ... confused about a lot things, like what works and what is ah ... er ... socialism or totalitarianism. That clearly cannot work, never has, never will and we have seen it fail many times just in my own life-time.

Any questions?

Posted by: John West | 2008-03-26 7:45:34 PM


"any and I don't care what you think your rights are, you just simply don't get any. It will just be available."

That should have read "It will just NOT be available"

Posted by: John West | 2008-03-26 7:48:46 PM


Canada should export water to the US if that's the right and economical thing to do. NAFTA declares that any percentage of Canadian water shipped to the US cannot be reduced without abrogating the NAFTA. That seems fair because our southern partners need a reliable source.

Posted by: dewp | 2008-03-26 9:24:41 PM


Canada should export water to the US if that's the right and economical thing to do. NAFTA declares that any percentage of Canadian water shipped to the US cannot be reduced without abrogating the NAFTA. That seems fair because our southern partners need a reliable source.

Posted by: dewp | 26-Mar-08 9:24:41 PM

Our southern partners already have a reliable source, its called the Pacific Ocean. They could do what dozens of other countries do, build desalination stations. Though I suspect that the environmentalists would object. Much easier to get Canada to dam up our rivers to send water south than possible damaging the fragile US eco system.

Posted by: The Stig | 2008-03-26 9:50:31 PM


Fact Check,

NPD's arguments do not make sense. If indeed access to water is a basic human right, then we should to all in our power to spread that human right to all fellow men. But NDP does not do this, they (selfishly) want to keep the water for Canadians only. (Probably they're culturally racist too.)

The same goes for healthcare and education. If these wonderful things are indeed human rights, why don't we increase taxation 20 percentage points, and send the money to the neeedy in this world? Or, if NDP is not on power, why don't the NDP'ers themselves sell the car and TV, move to a smaller house, and send the proceeds to Africa?

The answer is that NDP'ers are greedy and selfish, just like the rest of us.

Posted by: Johan i Kanada | 2008-03-26 10:44:34 PM


One of the reasons that we don't want to export water is because the diversion of large quantities of water will change our ecosystems and that may not be a good solution for us. A good example is the course of the Colorado River.

Why not use desalinization? The cost is about ten times as much as the use of ground water.

If Americans or anyone else wants to live in an area where potable water is in short supply, they will have to get used to paying a premium price for it.

Posted by: DML | 2008-03-26 11:30:53 PM


dewp says, "NAFTA declares that any percentage of Canadian water shipped to the US cannot be reduced without abrogating the NAFTA. That seems fair because our southern partners need a reliable source."

How can a policy that is self-defeating be considered "fair"? For as long as that clause remains enforeable, there will be no significant sales of water to the U.S. and the U.S. will lack the "reliable source" they require.

Free trade, by contrast, means that people who own water may sell it to the highest bidder for as long as they wish to, and cannot be compelled to do so for any longer than they wish to. Free trade in water will increase the wealth of both nations, as this resource is shifted to higher-valued uses in the U.S.

Posted by: Grant Brown | 2008-03-27 12:46:58 AM


Absolutely right Grant. Anyone who has read NAFTA will realize that it has very little to do with free trade.

Posted by: DML | 2008-03-27 10:39:25 PM



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