I was surprised to read, on your July 6 editorial page, a letter from John B. Challinor II, director of corporate affairs for Nestlé Waters Canada, commending me on my commitment to environmental sustainability.
He referred to recent presentations I made, on behalf of the Comox Valley Chapter of the Council of Canadians and the Comox Valley Water Watch Coalition, to our three municipal councils and our regional district, encouraging them to become Blue Communities.
Mr. Challinor describes the Blue Communities Project as a “Trojan Horse-like treatise, developed solely to encourage municipalities to ban the sale of bottled water in their facilities under the guise of human rights and infrastructure management.”
He further states that the project is “not an environmental initiative, but rather a political campaign against the Canadian beverage industry.”
I disagree that Blue Communities is not an environmental issue. What aspect of the environment could be more important than the availability of clean drinking water?
And to quote Paul Moist, CUPE national president (CUPE and the Council of Canadians are co-sponsors of the initiative), who acknowledges the project is indeed a political campaign, and who suggests: “What could be more appropriate than grassroots activism that invites our elected local representatives to have a democratic, public debate about how scarce municipal tax dollars should be spent?”
I wonder if Mr. Challinor’s concerns might be motivated by a fear that the massive profits multinational corporations like Nestlé realize from selling what should be a public resource could be coming to an end.
We have two main concerns about bottled water — the source of the water being bottled (and its impact on the local communities), and the impact of the production, transportation and eventual disposal of the bottles.
If our local governments believe that water is a human right and that municipal water systems should not be privatized for profit, then it follows that they should promote the excellent tap water they provide and not profit from the sale of single-use bottled water where clean tap water is available. People will still be able to bring bottled water to city facilities and consume or give it away.
Editor’s note: Linda Safford represents the Comox Valley Council of Canadians and Comox Valley Water Watch.