The Great Water Debate

The Great Water Debate Canada is a country that is well known for being a global competitor due to its vast natural resources. However, the trade of some resources has been a subject of argument for many years; specifically water. It is a well-known fact that Canada has a fifth of the world’s fresh water resources. Making Canada the target of many global and domestic arguments ranging from “No Way! ” to “Without any doubt, certainly! Beyond personal opinion, there is also the issue of whether, under the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), water is a “vital resource” like the air we breathe, or a “commodity” to be sold and traded. No matter the personal opinion of the people, the federal government usually has the last say, however, in this case, the decision is down to the provincial governments. “There is a voluntary provincial ban on bulk exports, but any province could break it any time, and would it not withstand a NAFTA challenge” .

However, Canada does still trade water but not in the expected manner. Canada sells water in containers (no larger than 30 liters) to other countries. There are a lot of advantages to exporting Canadian water in bulk. “Canada has only a half percent of the world’s population but it holds one-fifth of the planet’s freshwater supply” . A big thing to consider is about 7%-9% of the fresh water is renewable, this means that even though Canadians have the second highest water usage in the world, they still have an excess amount of water left over.

This is water that if commoditized, could turn Canada’s economy around. Resulting in a huge profit for the government which can help support Canada’s public healthcare system or even cut the country’s taxes. These are all the advantages of treating water as a commodity, allowing the selling and trading of it internationally. However, there are huge disadvantages to trading Canadian water internationally in bulk which in my opinion easily out weight the advantages offered in this situation. One thing to consider is that Water is not only a need by human being but by all living things the ecosystem.

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Thirdly, in contrary to popular belief, only 1 per cent of water in the Great Lakes is renewable; leading me into the next point that “Once it’s gone, it’s gone”. Water is a finite resource. Exporting water at bulk permanently will result in even more Lakes drying up than already, due to the climate change. Lastly, at some time in the near future, water bankruptcy around the world will result. A United Nations study that says by the year 2025 – less than 25 years – two-thirds of the world will be “water-poor. ” If Canada manages to conserve its resources of fresh water till the much dreaded year of 2025.

Canada can be making many times the profit that they would be currently making if they were to export all their water now. With all the given points, it seems quite clear that reserving Canada’s water for the future is an intelligent and environmentally friendly decision. There is also another aspect to consider when making the decision of whether selling Canada’s water internationally is a good idea or not. That is the ethical issue of selling water. “Water is an essential need, a public trust, not a commodity. It belongs to everyone and to no one. – Canadian Environmental Law Association. Without water, no human being or any living creature in fact would live longer than a couple of days. By putting a price tag on water, Canada would be allowing the rich to enjoy an excess amount of water and purchase at will while the poor will have to die of thirst throughout the world. Another aspect to consider is, as previously stated, the killing of many living organisms that live and use the lake’s fresh water. By removing water from the lakes, Canada would cause a global rage and hatred towards itself by activists around the world.

As previously stated, my personal point of view is that Canada should not sell its water internationally; at least, not yet. Water is not a commodity to be bought and sold. Bulk water exports will not address the issues of water scarcity. Allowing water to be traded as an export would create a market system that would determine access to water by ability to pay. Considering these points, I still do not believe that it should be banned; instead, it should be saved for a great profit opportunity for the future when water becomes as valuable as the oil in middle east. By: Amir Sheidaei

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