The Great Water Debate

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The Great Water Debate
Canada is a country that is well known for being a global competitor due to its vast natural resources. However, the trade of some resources has been a subject of argument for many years; specifically water. It is a well-known fact that Canada has a fifth of the world’s fresh water resources. Making Canada the target of many global and domestic arguments ranging from “No Way!” to “Without any doubt, certainly!” Beyond personal opinion, there is also the issue of whether, under the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), water is a "vital resource" like the air we breathe, or a "commodity" to be sold and traded.

No matter the personal opinion of the people, the federal government usually has the last say, however, in this case, the decision is down to the provincial governments. “There is a voluntary provincial ban on bulk exports, but any province could break it any time, and would it not withstand a NAFTA challenge” . However, Canada does still trade water but not in the expected manner. Canada sells water in containers (no larger than 30 liters) to other countries.

There are a lot of advantages to exporting Canadian water in bulk. “Canada has only a half percent of the world's population but it holds one-fifth of the planet's freshwater supply” . A big thing to consider is about 7%-9% of the fresh water is renewable, this means that even though Canadians have the second highest water usage in the world, they still have an excess amount of water left over. This is water that if commoditized, could turn Canada’s economy around. Resulting in a huge profit for the government which can help support Canada’s public healthcare system or even cut the country’s taxes. These are all the advantages of treating water as a commodity, allowing the selling and trading of it internationally. However, there are huge disadvantages to trading Canadian water internationally in bulk which in my opinion easily out weight the...
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