Friday, June 22, 2007

Water truckin'

You may remember Michael Byers as the UBC International Law prof who asked prior to the last election why extraordinary rendition wasn't an election issue and who also red-flagged our Afghan detainee transfer deal in the national press over a whole freakin year ago.

Byers has a book out - "Intent for a Nation : What is Canada for?" - and The Tyee has an excerpt :

"In 2004, the Canadian actor Paul Gross starred in a made-for-TV drama entitled H2O. Gross plays Tom McLaughlin, the charismatic son of a murdered Canadian prime minister, who takes over Canada at the behest of a group of international financiers eager to sell our fresh water to an increasingly thirsty United States."

Did you see this movie? I hadn't so I looked it up at IMDb. Some of the user comments about the unlikelihood of the plot's basic premise were kind of sad. At the time this movie aired, the GATT agricultural provisions regarding water were two decades old, and NAFTA, including the dreaded Annex Tariff Item 22.01: water: all natural water other than sea water, whether or not clarified or purified, had already passed its tenth birthday. Five years before this movie was even a twinkle in CBC's eye, the NDP were standing on the floor of the HoC demanding a clarification on water sovereignty under NAFTA - and it was denied.

While conceding that Canada's legal position on control of her water is at the very least muddy, Byer warns against setting any bulk water trading precedents:

"A single act of trading water on a bulk basis would arguably transform the resource into a tradable good that was legally indistinguishable from softwood lumber, potash or oil, rendering subsequent attempts to prevent or limit further exports illegal. For this reason, it is imperative that Canada takes water off the free trade table, quickly and decisively -- now, before it's too late."

Well another attempt was made two weeks ago, this time in the form of a motion asking the Cons to request a clarification from Mexico and the US on their position on Canada's water, and it was again denied.

Byers' excerpt concludes:

"On water, as on so many other issues, our conciliatory, don't-rock-the-boat approach to Canada-U.S. relations has failed. Unless we stand up for our own interests, Canadian fresh water could soon be irrigating crops, watering golf courses and filling backyard swimming pools in the south western United States.
It's time to dissuade Americans of the notion that we're going to rescue them from the consequences of their short-sighted, profligate ways by allowing them to mess with our environment, too. It's time to make it absolutely clear that bulk water exports are not covered by NAFTA."

In the meantime someone please let me know how that H2O movie turned out.

Tyee link from Jennifer at Runesmith's Canadian Content



Anonymous said...

H20: The main thrust of the film was that the Tom McLaughlin character, who was in the pockets of big business, was VERY pro-globalisation/global community and intended to 'merge' Canada with the US (mostly for blatant economic reasons), while using fresh water as a very expensive carrot.

In the end, with Canada on its knees due to the introduction of war measures, the US 'invades' Canada - taking total power and, of course, all the water for free.

Hell of an interesting movie though - full of very apt warnings about the future and well-written. The people on imdb who didn't like it are those who didn't understand it.

Anonymous said...

A sequel to it entitled The Trojan Horse is coming out sometime later this year, I believe. You can see more about it at Gross' production company website, My understanding is that it is even more chilling. H20 was a tour de force and well worth seeing.

West End Bob said...

Thanks for keeping these issues in front of the public, Alison.

You perform a great service by doing so . . . .

Jennifer Smith said...

Not only do I own a copy of H2O, I had it autographed by Paul Gross when he was here in Milton shooting parts of 'The Trojan Horse'. It was kind of creepy seeing all the American flags strung all over Victoria Park.

Dave said...

I've never seen the movie, but I'm not too tickled about life imitating art in this case.

Good post!

Alison said...

Elllie & Wendy : Thanks. I posted this over at Galloping Beaver as well and a commenter there said the only impausible part of the film was that a terrorist threat was used as a pretense to invade Canada, when we all know that SPP is all that is required. :-(

WEB : LOL. We both know I bore everyone to tears bagging on endlessly on my little drum about this crap.
That link to NAFTA Annex Tariff 22.01 from Wendy Holm is important though. She figures the whole "bottled" vs "bulk" thing is a Tom D'Aquino smokescreen to cover the fact neither are exempt.
I would trust Holm on this - smartest woman I ever met, an in-the-trenches walk-the-talk intellectual.

Jennifer : Left you a note at your place. Had no idea when I read your post last month that your pic was of a location in Canada.

Anonymous said...

It was a pretty good movie. I saw it when it aired on CBC. I keep expecting them to re-air it someday (but not so far).

I'd like to see the Tommy Douglas story again too.

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