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The fight to keep water public: Regina Water Watch

On this week's episode of Talking Radical Radio, student activist Jeremy Campbell talks about his work with Regina Water Watch. They've forced the City of Regina into a referendum to keep a new wastewater facility public, and they intend to win it.

One of the pervasive trends of the last several decades is the permeation of the logic of the market -- private ownership for private profit rather than common responsibility and the common good -- into more and more domains of life. There are many, many ways in which this is enacted and where it is resisted, from the patenting of genes, to the corporatization of postsecondary education, to changes in our public discourse. One important area is water. Throughout the world there has been increasing pressure to turn what many regard as a natural resource, a human right, and something that should be common to all humanity and indeed all living things, into a commodity, private property, and a source of profit.

How that is playing out varies a great deal depending on context. In Regina, Saskatchewan, one way it is happening through efforts by the municipal government to build a new wastewater treatment facility using a public-private partnership, or P3 agreement, that would give a private company exclusive control over the city's water for a period of 30 years. In March of this year, a coalition called Regina Water Watch came together to oppose this move. They have successfully forced the city government into a referendum on the issue, and they are in the midst of a hard-fought campaign to ensure that the facility is instead built and operated publically. Campbell is one of the core organizers with the campaign, and he talked with me about the issue, the tactics used by Regina Water Watch to ensure the question would go to a referendum, and what they are doing to make sure they win it.

For more information about the Regina Water Watch and its work, click here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada through in-depth interviews that concentrate not on current events or the crisis of the moment, but on giving people involved in a broad range of social change work a chance to take a longer view as they talk about what they do, how they do it, and why they do it. To learn more about the show in general, click here.

You can also learn more about ways to listen or go to the show's page on rabble.ca. To learn more about suggesting grassroots groups and organizations for future shows, click here. For details on the show's theme music, click here.

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