A well-known name from BC’s political past says it terrifies her to see petition campaigns against Nestle, demanding the Province increase the price it sets for water.
In a Facebook post that has been shared more than 14,000 times, former MLA Judy Tyabji says the petition effort is “dangerous.”
Water shouldn’t be monetized
Tyabji says petition organizers may be well-intentioned, but they are essentially lobbying the province to turn BC’s water into a for-profit commodity.
And that would have negative implications when it comes to free trade deals.
“The minute you sell water, especially ground water, all the provisions of NAFTA have to apply. That means we can never turn off the taps. So ironically they’re say, “Oh, we could have a scarcity issue so we need to charge them more money.” No, if we charge them any money, then when we have real scarcity we will never turn off the taps.”
Tyabji says water from aquifers are exempt from NAFTA provisions, as long as the water is not sold for profit.
“The provincial government has been very good, first with the NDP now with the Liberals, in not charging money for it. The new Water Act does actually charge admistrative fees, which is great. So ironically at the very time that the Water Act is finally addressing some revenue from groundwater we have got the left saying you have got to charge more, which effectively turn it into a commodity, which is very dangerous.”
Tyabji says the province is walking a fine line with its administrative fees under the Water Act.
“Given that this is the first time it has been charged I think the government because of the public outcry will try to find ways to make that fee higher. But how many of us would be interested in making a little more money and then opening us up for a lawsuit from Nestle saying well this is beyond what you need to charge therefor you are profiting from it and when you are profiting from it that means you are selling it.”
Tyabji is a very public supporter of Premier Christy Clark, and campaigned for Clark during the last provincial election.
In response, petition organizers say she is ignoring the real issue of water management in this province.