From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests; you cannot subvert your neighbor's rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own. Carl Schurz

Monday, February 6, 2012

Let Them Drink Bitumen

Thanks to a question placed on the order paper by the Liberals we now know that the number of First Nations communities under drinking water advisories has increased nearly 40% since 2006. No province or Territory  has made any headway in improving the situation for these communities as in every jurisdiction the numbers of communities under advisories has either remained static or increased except Ontario which saw the number drop from 38 to 37 .

Interestingly it is Alberta which has seen the largest increase where the number of communities under advisories grew from eight to 33 between 2006 and 2011. While no reason for the sharp spike in Alberta was given it certainly isn't a stretch to suspect tarsands activity.

This past June a government commissioned study pegged the cost of bringing First Nations drinking water up to standard at 4.7 billion dollars over the next decade with 1.2 billion of that needed immediately. So how has the Harper government responded to this crisis? In their usual manner of course with a shrug of their shoulders and some mealy mouthed platitudes but no real action or even a semblance of a plan.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan has said the government has no plans for major new investments in improving the water situation on reserves. Instead, Duncan has said the government will focus on passing legislation to set regulations and standards for reserve water and wastewater systems.
This despite their own study concluding that  it was not “credible” to implement a new “regulatory regime” unless the government also provided funding to allow First Nations to meet the new rules.

It is no longer a matter of if but when we have another Walkerton like tragedy?

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