Backed by the Cowichan Estuary, Green Party leader Elizabeth May (Saanich-Gulf Islands) stood with Cowichan-Malahat-Langford candidate Fran Hunt-Jinnouchi and Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidate Paul Manly Monday morning to announce the party’s plan to defend and protect Canada’s water.
“There are many issues that have been ignored in this election campaign, probably none more so than Canada’s water,” said May. “There is no plan in place for Canada right now for how to adjust and adapt to ensure that water is conserved and preserved in the face of the climate crisis,” May added. “We need to protect it. We need to conserve it. We need to respect it. These principals underly the Green Party’s approach to water.”
Among the Green’s pledges are to reverse the radical changes to the Fisheries Act that were contained in the Harper government’s first omnibus bill, and invest $24 million a year in wild fisheries and rivers, and to reverse Stephen Harper’s changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act, which delisted many of Canada’s lakes and rivers from protection.
“We only have 162 lakes and rivers protected in this country and none of them are on Vancouver Island so it’s important that we recognize water,” Manly said.
“It’s a human right. It’s something that we need to protect. It’s something that is very important for our communities and we’re going to fight in parliament to make sure that our water supplies are properly protected.”
A former First Nations chief, Hunt-Jinnouchi outlined the importance of water on aboriginals.
“I have always been raised knowing that water is sacred. Water is life. It’s been the way that we have transported ourselves, gathered together for weddings, for funerals, even sometimes in battle,” she said. “We are canoe ocean-going people. Water and our ecosystems and our estuaries are what sustain us. We can’t even discuss food security without first ensuring that we have water security.”
The Greens’ water protection plan aims to invest $800 million per year into basic infrastructure for Canada’s First Nations, including drinking water and housing.
“I am ready to take on the important task of ensuring drinking water is safe on First Nations reserves when I am elected this fall,” Hunt-Jinnouchi said.
A 2015 Council of Canadians report revealed that of 169 drinking water advisories in 126 First Nation communities, 35 are in B.C.
“It is a Canadian embarrassment that the vast majority of boil water advisories are on First Nations communities in this country,” she added. “This is a health issue that must be fixed.”
The plan also favours supporting international momentum for the human right to water by establishing a national, legally binding human right to basic water requirements for all Canadians both in quality and quantity.
Hunt-Jinnouchi also noted the multitude of other water issues right here in Cowichan that need attention.
“I stand here today making my commitment to work tirelessly to help support the protection of Shawnigan Lake, to ensure that we advocate for the funds necessary and the voice in Ottawa to protect the fish habitat and the water in the Cowichan River, but also out here along the coast in the Saanich Inlet, that we must stand in strong opposition to the floating LNG facility that can also prove to harm our oceans and our water,” she said. “It is our responsibility to be good stewards of Canada’s water.”
Visit www.greenparty.ca to learn more about the Green Party’s water plan.