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Former PM Turner says Canada’s water supply should be priority for environmental protection

By Roderick Benns

The ongoing problem of drought in the United States means that Canada needs to stay vigilant in environmental policy, says former Canadian Prime Minister John Turner.

In a sweeping interview with Leaders and Legacies from his summer home in Kenora, situated on Canada’s storied Lake of the Woods, Mr. Turner sounded wary about the situation in the U.S.

“Arkansas, California…and other states are all drying up,” Mr. Turner says. “And they’ll (the U.S) eventually be looking at Canada’s water.”

Canada has one fifth of the world’s fresh water supply.

In fact, California has now entered its fourth consecutive year of drought. There is also general agreement that the entire American Southwest and the Central Plains regions are going to get drier due to an increase in greenhouse gas trapped in the atmosphere.

“The Americans claim that (water sales) are a part of the free trade agreement,” adds Mr. Turner, who is not a supporter of the deal in general. “But I say it’s not.”

He points out that Americans are already “swiping Lake Michigan’s water” which affects the overall Great Lakes basin.

U.S. companies are already making waves in other ways when it comes to water consumption, such as Nestlé Waters, Walmart and Coca-Cola. They own many of California’s bottling plants (more than 100) and have historic rights to huge quantities of water resources throughout the state. Nestlé also bottles water in B.C. Companies like this continue to divert water from various sources despite the ongoing drought in the U.S. As well, fracking within the natural gas industry uses millions of gallons of water.

“The environment is so important,” says the former Liberal prime minister. “And water is my number one priority. We just need to be careful in future negotiations with the United Sates.”



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