Yesterday morning the Trudeau government confirmed that it would pay $4.5 billion to buy the Kinder Morgan pipeline. The pipeline project is estimated to cost up to $7.4 billion.
This decision was made as the total number of drinking water advisories (DWAs) on First Nations reserves significantly increased this month. There were a total of 124 DWAs at the beginning of May, and now the number has spiked to 174 advisories in the last couple of weeks.
The Trudeau government had committed to ending DWAs by 2021. But there hasn't been a significant decrease in the total number of drinking water advisories and the numbers in fact increased this month.
In December, the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimated the cost of ending boil water advisories by 2020 to be $3.2 billion. The PBO's report also found that the Trudeau government was spending 70 per cent -- at most -- of what it needed to on water advisories.
The $4.5 billion Trudeau committed to bailing out Kinder Morgan could end boil water advisories in First Nations.
The Kinder Morgan pipeline crosses 1,355 waterways, putting communities' drinking water at risk. Coldwater Indian Band, along with several other Indigenous nations, launched a legal challenge because the pipeline cuts right through the nation's drinking water source.
Instead of allocating adequate funding to ensure clean water for First Nations and uphold the human rights to water and sanitation, the Trudeau government is committing $4.5 billion to bail out Kinder Morgan and ram through a project that puts the drinking water of Indigenous nations and municipalities at risk.
Council of Canadians Climate Campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue urges us to take action today, "Please take time today to call your MP or visit their office and let them know how you feel about owning an export pipeline that, if expanded, will violate Indigenous rights, is inconsistent with the Paris Climate Agreement, and threatens a massive diluted bitumen spill in waterways along the pipeline path and coastal waters (Coast Salish Sea). A spill would threaten good jobs and livelihoods based on fisheries and tourism."
She adds, "You can use our five reasons to #Stop KM for your conversation with your MP and a very useful piece written by the Council of Canadians' new Prairies-NWT regional organizer Bronwen Tucker debunking a number of Alberta Premier Rachel Notley's economic arguments."
Contact your MP today!
NOTE: The 174 DWAs include both "long-term" and "short-term" advisories. The Trudeau government has divided the total DWAs into "long-term' and "short-term' advisories and only focuses on ending "long-term" DWAs, but these categories are misleading.
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada states that long-term DWAs are advisories that have been in effect for more than one year. Indigenous Services Canada says that short term advisories are "a temporary water quality issue on a specific water system." But some of the "short-term" DWAs have been lifted and reinstated and lifted and reinstated again several times over the years. So the Trudeau government categorizing some DWAs as "short-term" hides the fact that some of these First Nations have been without clean drinking water for many years.
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