By Aaron Wherry - Monday, January 14, 2013 - 0 Comments
The Harper government announced yesterday that it will invest $330.8 million over two years “to sustain progress made to build and renovate water and wastewater infrastructure on reserve and to support the development of a long-term strategy to improve water quality in First Nation communities.” The funding commitment is about nine and a half months old, having first been made in the budget. At that time the Assembly of First Nations deemed it insufficient.
The 2012 budget commitment of $330 million over two years represents a continuation of the federal program. The two-year investment falls short of the estimated $4.7 billion in funding required as identified by the 2011 National Engineering Assessment. First Nations must continue to engage with the Government of Canada to develop a plan to implement the recommendations of the 2011 study and ensure a clear plan of investment.
The National Assessment of First Nations Water and Wastewater Systems was released in July 2011. The total cost for new servicing was projected to be $4.7 billion over ten years, but that projection comes with some caveats. Continue…
By The Canadian Press - Monday, September 10, 2012 at 12:19 PM - 0 Comments
The InterAction Council has issued a new report warning that the future impact of water scarcity could be devastating.
OTTAWA – A prestigious group of former world leaders and experts is sounding the alarm about a water crisis that threatens peace, political stability and economic development around the globe.
The InterAction Council has issued a new report warning that the future impact of water scarcity could be devastating.
The report comes as foreign ministers from a number of countries prepare for a special discussion of the water crisis later this month on the margins of the UN General Assembly.
The report doesn’t call for specific action by the UN.
But former Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien, who co-chairs the council, says the group is trying to raise awareness of the urgency of the crisis in hopes that the Security Council will recognize water as a top security concern facing the planet.
“We want to alert the Security Council that there’s a major problem,” Chretien told reporters on a teleconference call Monday.
Zafar Adeel, director of the UN University’s Institute for Water, Environment and Health, said the Security Council has never focused specifically on water security.
The report, prepared in conjunction with the Hamilton-based institute and the Toronto-based Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation, says 4,500 children die every day because of diseases related to unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation.
And the problem, it warns, will only get worse.
With an additional billion people on the planet by 2025, another trillion cubic meters of water will be required each year — equivalent to the annual flow of 20 Niles or 100 Colorado Rivers.
In less than 20 years, the demand for water is expected to exceed supplies in India and China, the world’s two most populous countries.
And the effects of climate change will result in droughts in some parts of the planet, flooding in others.
The report predicts conflicts in future may well erupt over scarce water supplies, in particular in already unstable regions like the Middle East and Africa.
“As some of these nations are already politically unstable, such crises may have regional repercussions that extend well beyond their political boundaries,” says former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland in a foreword to the report.
“But even in politically stable regions, the status quo may very well be disturbed first and most dramatically by the loss of stability in hydrological patterns.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 2:27 PM - 0 Comments
Paul Dewar’s 5-point water strategy would: Support the principle of public delivery of water services; Enforce federal laws protecting water quality and fisheries, and properly support agencies regulating water; Impose a federal ban on bulk water export to prevent major impacts to water basins; Encourage research, development and use of water conservation systems, technologies and practices and water efficiency standards; and, Take global leadership on addressing water rights issues.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 12:20 PM - 12 Comments
Talk of trading access to water on an open market stirs controversy, but it’s already a reality in Alberta
Last month, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, the chairman of Nestlé SA, the world’s largest food company, made a splash in Alberta for announcing, via an interview with Reuters in Geneva, that Nestlé was in talks with the Alberta government to establish a so-called water exchange—a market in which water, life’s sine qua non, could be bought and sold just like wheat, pork bellies or any other commodity. “We are actively dealing with the government of Alberta to think about a water exchange,” said Brabeck-Letmathe, describing the province as ideal for such a scheme because water there is scarce and competition for the resource between farmers and oil sands operators is fierce.
This was news to the government of Alberta, which swiftly moved to allay fears about the commodification of Alberta’s water, and its potential export. “Alberta’s water is not for sale and will not be,” Environment Minister Rob Renner told the legislature.
Yet Renner did not deny outright that the province had met with Nestlé, or others, to discuss the notion of setting up a water market in which licences to access the Crown-owned resource could be traded for money. (The province left it to Nestlé to clarify the issue: “Nestlé SA representatives have not met the government of Alberta to discuss an exchange-based water trade,” a press release said.) In fact, Renner signalled the province might indeed have an appetite for setting up such a system: “I think there will come a day, at some point in time, when we need to value water. Whether that means in the form of a regulatory regime or whether it means in some form of a market remains to be seen.”
By Charlie Gillis and Kate Lunau. - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 at 11:15 AM - 10 Comments
Mass extinctions, water shortages, dwindling oil reserves, grinding poverty. Can the Earth sustain every one of us?
For the world, as for his family, the birth of Adnan Nevic was cause for celebration. No less an eminence than the secretary-general of the United Nations attended his arrival, posing with the swaddled child as camera strobes lit a maternity room in central Sarajevo. He was born four minutes past midnight on October 12, 1999, and Kofi Annan had made his way to the hospital like a wise man following a star. There were 5.999999999 billion people on the face of the planet, depending on whose “population clock” you went by. The time had come to designate a six billionth.
The challenges that lay before this infant reflected those of human populations around the globe. His parents, Jasmin and Fatima, were poor. The family lived cheek by jowl in a bleak apartment. His father needed work. Ethnic conflict remained a dormant but ever-present threat to their country. The UN chief offered words of hope, saying this “beautiful boy in a city returning to life should light a path of tolerance and understanding for all people.” But a long and happy life? For that, Adnan Nevic would need a few breaks.
Today, as demographers look ahead to a 10-billion-strong global population, the future of No. 6,000,000,000 is no less clouded. By day, he is an apple-cheeked sixth-grader who loves dogs and cheers on the fabled Spanish soccer team, Real Madrid. At night, he watches over a father stricken by bowel cancer, and sleeps in the same bedroom as his parents in their two-room flat in Visoko, a run-down town 28 km outside Sarajevo. Adnan’s plight could never really stand in for that of all humanity. But it does, to borrow the UN boss’s trope, illuminate the road we will travel over the course of his life.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 1:53 PM - 21 Comments
The Prime Minister’s former advisor apparently figured he was within the law.
Carson, however, seemed to sense he was on shaky ground in terms of his lobbying. At one point, Carson said he was worried the Lobbying Commissioner could start looking into his activities. When asked if the thought he could slip through under the rule that allows someone to lobby without registering if it makes up less than 20 per cent of their work, Carson said he thought he would. “I really don’t want the Lobbying Commissioner sort of going crazy over my involvement in this,” he said. “This would be like one-tenth of one per cent of my time so we’re all right.”
By Paul Wells - Friday, March 18, 2011 at 10:05 AM - 74 Comments
GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES IMMEDIATE ACTION ON FIRST NATIONS DRINKING WATER
OTTAWA, ONTARIO (March 21, 2006) -The Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, with Phil Fontaine, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), today launched a plan of action to address drinking water concerns in First Nation communities.
“The government will ensure that First Nation leaders have access to the tools and resources they need to deliver clean water to their residents,” said Minister Prentice. “All parties with responsibilities in this area must take decisive action and achieve measurable results.”
Oh, yes. This is a scandal.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 2:02 PM - 8 Comments
Report finds smaller communities vulnerable to lower water quality
A new report released by the C.D. Howe Institute says Canada’s approach to drinking water management is fragmented, leaving smaller communities are more vulnerable to water-quality failures. It says smaller communities should consolidate their water systems into regional authorities in order to attract better-trained staff to produce safe drinking water. The report also points to inconsistencies, inefficiencies and duplications in Canada’s water management network, such as duplicate lists of boil water advisories, which could be better administered by a higher degree of professional management.
By Brian D. Johnson - Saturday, December 12, 2009 at 10:05 AM - 48 Comments
Using the Genie Awards criteria, I’ve confined the list to Canadian productions or co-productions. Not eligible are movies merely directed by Canadians, such as A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, Juno, Up in the Air and Avatar.
10. Manufactured Landscapes (2007)
Travelling to China, director Jennifer Baichwal looked over the shoulder of photographer Edward Burtynsky as he found haunting beauty in epic landscapes of industrial ruin and mass production. The film is a portrait of the artist, a magnification of his already larger-than-life art, and an exercise in perspective that shows us the moving picture outside his frame. Cinematographer Peter Mettler, whose Gambling, Gods and LSD almost made this list, holds his own with Burtynsky in composing visual poetry. Another film about manufactured landscapes that’s equally deserving is Yung Chang’s Up the Yangtze (2008), a documentary on China’s Three Gorges Dam.
9. Polytechnique (2009)
Dramatizing the 1989 Montreal Massacre at École Polytechnique might appear to be impossible and unadvisable. But Quebec filmmaker Denis Villeneuve—whose Maelström and La turbulence des fluides narrowly missed ending up on this list—pulled it off with a stark, contemplative film that explores the horror without exploiting it. Filming in black-and-white, but mostly shades of wintry grey, largely ignoring the killer, Villeneuve focuses on two composite students. My colleague Mark Steyn suggested the film was an apology for the passivity of the men, concluding “you can’t make art out of such a world.” But like Gus Van Sant’s Elephant, Villeneuve’s art succeeds precisely because, unlike Steyn, he doesn’t mine the tragedy to draw a moral lesson.
8. Water (2005)
Following Fire and Earth, Deepa Mehta’s gorgeous period romance finessed a complex trilogy about women’s oppression in India, and it’s her finest film. Although it’s an unabashed romantic melodrama, it’s composed with an elegant eye and subtle, well-grounded performances. Water also performed a rare feat—a subtitled Hindi-language film became a box-office success in this country, then went on to get an Oscar nod, reminding us that popular Canadian cinema doesn’t have to be in English or French, or even shot in this country.
7. Spider (2002)
It’s the last film David Cronenberg shot before making a more mainstream breakthrough with A History of Violence and Eastern Promises. It’s relentlessly bleak, and it’s no surprise that virtually no one saw it. But Spider, starring a gnarly Ralph Fiennes as a schizophrenic who arrives at a halfway house after 20 years in institutions, is a brilliant psychological drama. With its chilling tableaus of industrial landscape, it’s also a fine-tuned portrait of the repressed desire and quiet desperation that are embedded like mildewed wallpaper into the English psyche.
6. Dying At Grace (2003)
Allan King, who died last year, was one of the world’s great vérité documentary filmmakers, making his name with excoriating portraits of raw psychology, such as Warrendale and Scenes of a Marriage. With Dying at Grace, like an explorer plumbing the outer limits of human experience, he takes the camera to a place it’s never been, as he films patients breathing their last breath in a palliative care ward. The film is not easy to watch, but there’s not a whiff of voyeurism. King, a director who makes a virtue of his own invisibility, gives us a work of pure cinema and captures the dying of the light.
5. C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005)
Quebec director Jean-Marc Vallée achieved a rare combination of wild artistic ambition and box-office success with this ’60s story about a young man growing up in working-class Montreal, infatuated with David Bowie, and struggling with his sexual identity. In the tradition of Léolo, it’s a poetic coming-of-age story set in the cultural vortex of Quebec’s not-so-Quiet Revolution, where Catholicism and psychedelia combine like nitroglycerin. Vallée took a huge gamble by building a major scene set in a church on Sympathy for Devil, then paid the Stones a small fortune for the rights—which still did not include America, thus thwarting U.S. distribution. Pity. Showing remarkable versatility, Vallée went on to direct a very different period film about a troubled adolescent, The Young Victoria.
4. My Winnipeg (2008)
Unfolding as an Oedipal fever dream, Guy Maddin’s love-hate portrait of his hometown mixes surreal memoir, faux documentary and actual documentary. With such seamless trompe l’oeil, it’s downright impossible to know, or care, which is which. That “archival” shot of horses frozen in the ice of the Red River looks so convincing. All of Maddin’s work is witty, virtuosic, and teeming with ideas, but this is his one masterpiece that is also utterly accessible, deeply moving, and laugh-out-loud funny.
3. Barbarian Invasions (2003)
Reuniting actors from The Decline of The American Empire, it’s Denys Arcand’s finest work. Sometimes, Arcand lets intellectual ambition upstage emotion, but this symphonic ensemble piece moves gracefully from sweeping social satire to tender tragedy. The terminally-ill woman who seeks to end her life in the company of her friends, Marie Josée Croze, is a revelation.
2. Away From Her (2007)
Such an unlikely feat. While still in her 20s, Sarah Polley made her feature directing debut with an intimate tale of elder romance that drew pitch-perfect, career-capping performances from Gordon Pinsent and Julie Christie. Adapting and expanding on Alice Munro’s story, it’s one of those rare CanLit adaptations that works. Unlike most of the other titles on this list, it’s a conventional, unadorned narrative. But with its oddly uplifting story of a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s who forgets she has a husband, it is more exotic than it sounds. Polley locates a core of indelible romance in the heart of a vanishing marriage.
By The Editors - Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 10:20 AM - 1 Comment
Canadians are among the biggest water wasters in the world. The reason: it’s cheap.
Often the best course of action is also the simplest, and that’s especially true where the environment is concerned.
Everyone agrees water is a precious resource, so we should treat it as if it’s truly valuable. The same goes for electricity, food and everything else we take from our environment. The greenest thing we can do is stop wasting what we’ve got. Continue…
By Katie Engelhart - Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 1:40 PM - 825 Comments
Poison or dental saviour? The mayors can’t decide.
For 40 years, the six Ontario municipalities that share the Lambton Area Water Supply System have been debating whether it’s safe to add fluoride to their drinking water. This November, the issue may finally be put to rest.
Like many Canadian water supplies, Lambton began adding fluoride to its water four decades ago as an inexpensive way to ward off tooth decay. But for just as long, some have opposed the practice as unnecessary—and possibly dangerous. “It’s been an issue every year since fluoride was put in in the ’60s,” says Mike Bradley, the mayor of Sarnia, Ont., which shares the water supply. Then, last year, Health Canada poured fuel on the fire with a report saying that adding too much fluoride did have adverse effects, and recommended a decrease in allowed levels.
By Jeff Harris - Friday, September 23, 2005 at 3:35 PM - 0 Comments
Jeff Harris goes behind the scenes
Nova Scotia’s Trailer Park Boys can’t stop talking about “drinking, smoking” and Viggo Mortenson gets a little lesson on NHL regalia (hint: the “C” stands for Canadiens). Canadian actor / director Don McKeller had two mini-films in the festival which were both shot on a cell phone. The Toronto Film Festival celebrates it’s 30th year, and here are 30 “short films” that celebrate the festival!