Challenging the CEO Water Mandate

May 18, 2011 - Corporate Accountability International (CAI), one of the Polaris Institute's main allies in its struggle to confront the coporate control of water, delivered a letter today signed by over 100 global civil society organizations to the Director General of the World Health Organization. The letter urges the Director General to encourage UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon to address widespread concerns about corporate conflicts of interest regarding global water governance, health and nutrition policy. The letter also asks Ban Ki Moon to withdraw the UN’s support for the corporate-driven CEO Water Mandate.

See CAI's press release below and read the letter here

Global Civil Society Groups call on WHO, UN to protect water and reject corporate conflicts of interest

Report exposes risks of privatization of Canadian municipal water services

CUPE-Quebec and Eau Secours! produced a report and recommendations on the implications of the Canadian - European Union Trade Agreement (CETA) negotiations on water.

The report explains and speaks against the inclusion of public services markets, including municipal water services in the negotiations. Lobbying from large European corporations, including large water services companies, seems to have played a role in putting these public services on the agenda for the CETA talks that are slated to come to a close by the end of the year. We must not let this pass.

This report also refers to a 2010 Council of Canadians and CUPE report on how CETA opens up our water services to privatization to the detriment of the citizens. You can read it here.

Polaris Institute protests Canadian mining company

New Gold is Risky Business: Opposition to Mexican Mine Heard at AGM

May 4, 2011 - (Toronto, Canada) Images and testimonials will alert New Gold shareholders at today’s annual meeting about the ongoing opposition to the company’s mine in Cerro San Pedro Mexico.

“We want to send a clear message to shareholders,” says Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy and Climate Justice Campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “Opposition to the Cerro de San Pedro mine isn’t going away and that means investing in New Gold is risky business.”

Harden-Donahue was part of a Canadian delegation heading to the UN climate talks in Cancun last December that visited the small village of Cerro de San Pedro, located directly beside the mine. Delegates met and heard testimonies from local populations opposed to the mine, who are gravely concerned with the impact on the historic village, water supplies, health and the surrounding environment.

City of Toronto Maintains Bottled Water Ban

In the face of intense lobbying from the bottled water industry, Toronto City Council voted down a motion on Wednesday night that would have overturned the city's 2008 bottled water ban. Wednesday's events show that Canadian municipalities are not giving in to industry pressure led by Nestlé to rescind good public policy. Toronto is the biggest city in the world to have banned bottled water and now joins the City of London (Ont) in rejecting industry pleas to reverse bottled water bans.

Bid to lift ban on bottled water goes down drain

Don Peat, Toronto Sun, April 13, 2011 - A bid to ban Toronto’s ban on bottled water was washed away Wednesday.

Polaris Institute Statement: Concordia University is Canada’s newest bottled water free campus

April 8, 2011 - The Polaris Institute congratulates the Concordia University administration for taking this important step towards a more sustainable and just campus. A special applause goes to the students who organized the successful TAPthirst campaign that was instrumental in this incredible outcome.

By phasing out the sale of bottled water from vending machines on the Loyola and Sir George Williams campuses and by committing to upgrade drinking fountains to accommodate reusable drink containers, Concordia University is making a serious commitment to responsible environmental practices.

Since when is bottled water a threat to the Prime Minister?

The Council of Canadians and the Polaris Institute are shocked that, according to media reports, a Guelph University student was denied entrance to a Stephen Harper campaign event because she opposed the sale of bottled water on her university campus.

While this is another egregious example of the Conservative party’s draconian efforts to exclude Canadians from its political rallies, in this case Conservative party officials appear to have blocked a university student for simply trying to create a more sustainable campus by promoting public tap water.

“How could the Conservatives think this is acceptable?” asked Brent Patterson, Director of Campaigns at the Council of Canadians.

Video Game Makes Tar Sands an Election Issue

OTTAWA, March 29 /CNW/ - Today the Polaris Institute re-launched TarNation a popular political video game aimed at highlighting Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff's unwillingness to take action on the environmentally destructive tar sands. Players spray oil at Conservative and Liberal party leaders to get them out of the tar sands.

"Harper and Ignatieff need the most encouragement to help Canada shift away from dirty oil and towards a more sustainable green economy" Says Tony Clarke, Executive Director of the Polaris Institute.

Play game:

For further information:
Contact: Richard Girard, 613 237-1717 105
Richard (at)

Important new report on the Great Lakes

The Council of Canadians released a new report on World Water Day outlining a critical plan to protect the great lakes.

See the report here

About the report from the Council of Canadians' website:

Our Great Lakes Commons: A People’s Plan to Protect the Great Lakes Forever is an in-depth report about the critical importance of forging a new future for the Great Lakes watershed, which provides life and livelihood to more than 40 million people in Canada and the United States, as well as thousands of species that live around it.

Written by Maude Barlow, the paper is intended to serve as a background and a call to understanding and action on a new proposal to designate the Great Lakes and its tributary waters as a lived Commons, to be shared, protected, carefully managed and enjoyed by all who live around them.

CUPE Nova Scotia President Says Nestle Waters Canada Exploiting World Water Day

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwire - March 22, 2011) - CUPE Nova Scotia President Danny Cavanagh is joining a chorus of water activists who say Nestlé Waters Canada, a private water company, is exploiting World Water Day for profit.

CUPE says the company issued a press release alerting the media that company executive John Challinor II will be accepting calls from the press on World Water Day (today) to talk about the company's "policies on water management and conservation."

The Inside the Bottle coalition – which CUPE is a part of – is encouraging its supporters to call John Challinor II today and let him know that water is not something that can be bought and sold for profit.

World Water Day Statement from the Water Justice Movement March 22, 2011

On World Water Day 2011, with water justice activists around the world mobilizing to assert the right to water and sanitation for people and communities, to preserve water as part of an ecological trust and to ensure that water is democratically controlled by the people in the public interest, we issue this short statement to reflect on both recent victories towards implementation the right to water as well as the challenges and threats that remain ahead.

We are heartened by passage this past year of two resolutions within the UN system that have further affirmed the right to water and the obligations governments must fulfill to uphold this right. The first resolution, passed in July 2010 in the UN General Assembly was championed by leading countries in Latin America, including Bolivia, as well as other countries in the global South, and its passage marked the first time this body had gone on record formally acknowledging the right to water and sanitation.