rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Challenging Canada at the UN on Earth Day

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Photo: Marie Berne/Flickr

Geneva, April 22, 2013 -- The Blue Planet Project is marking Earth Week by raising Canada's violations of the Human right to water with member states at the United Nations in Geneva in advance of the country's universal periodic review (UPR). The UPR was established in 2006 to enable an international review of the human rights records of member states.

Canada's UPR takes place on April 26. Joining us in Geneva are representatives of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees. Together, we are highlighting the range and complexities of water injustices in Canada.

The human right to water is not the be all and end all of the Harper government's dismal human rights record, but it is a wedge issue that highlights the injustices of the Canadian government's political orientation in a number of key areas including the environment, indigenous rights, public services and foreign policy.

The First Nations drinking water crisis highlights the depth of the anti-colonial struggle. As the MKO underscores, there are 1,000 First Nations homes without basic water and sanitation infrastructure in Northern Manitoba alone. Yet the region, where First Nations communities are denied the right to the basic elements of human dignity, is rich in minerals and natural resources. The MKO argues that Indigenous populations do not benefit from the $3 billion a year made from the sale of natural resources in the territories of the 30 First Nations communities it represents.

Outside of indigenous communities, the Canadian Union of Public Employees is challenging Canada for undermining municipal public water and sanitation systems that have provided excellent drinking water and sanitation services for decades. As part of its fervent ideological assault on public services, Canada is now forcing municipalities to privatize if they want access to federal funding. Despite evidence that private water has led to rate hikes and a drop in quality and accountability of services around the world, the federal government is leaving municipalities with little choice in the matter -- a blatant violation of the right to public participation in decision-making on water.

The Blue Planet Project is also raising the appalling manner in which the Conservative government is dismantling environmental protections and attacking civil society checks and balances in order to push through massive extractive projects that have been harmful to people and the environment in Canada and abroad.

Now that the United Nations has formally recognized water and sanitation as a human right, we are urging member states to defend this right by speaking out against Canada's shameful record.

Follow Meera on Twitter at meerakar.

Photo: Marie Berne/Flickr

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.