Council of Canadians National Chairperson speaks at U of C

By Thomas Carrozzier

She was introduced to the audience as a woman of “knowledge, conviction and courage.” “She” is Maude Barlow and she spoke at the University of Calgary during a two-hour lecture Mon., June 16.

Barlow is the elected Council of Canadians National Chairperson and covered a range of topics from the commodification of the world’s water supplies, to the recent partnership between David Orchard and Peter MacKay in the Progressive Conservative leadership campaign.

The author of 13 books, her latest titled Blue Gold: The Battle to Stop Corporate Theft of the World’s Water, did not fail to display her strong views throughout the lecture.

"We are on the brink of a water crisis. The earth is drying up like an apple," she commented, adding that scientists have identified various places including California, New Mexico, and 22 African countries as "hot stings."

And though it may seem normal for Albertans to let the tap run to fill the bathtub, Barlow made clear that lack of water is a serious problem for many.

"Take South Africa as an exam ple," said Barlow. "When Nelson Mandela came to power he assured that water was a public good and not a commodity. But the next president Mbeki allowed water sources to be privatized, and now many South Africans lack water, something that never happened, even during apartheid."

An hour into the lecture, Barlow said she did not wish to talk at the audience but with the audience, and question period began.

When asked her opinion on David Orchard and his unusually progressive beliefs within the Progressive Conservative Party, Barlow warns the audience he is nonetheless a member of the Tories.

"I have my doubts," said Barlow. "I certainly cannot imagine Brian Mulroney’s and Ralph Klein’s party coming to our side on NAFTA. And besides, that is no longer the issue. NAFTA is about to be swallowed by the FTAA agreement. That’s what we have to worry about."

In fact, Barlow came to Calgary as part of the "Making the Links Tour" to speak out against the World Trade Organization and the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas along with the Council of Canadians Vice-Chair Tony Clarke.

"Become informed," she told the audience. "Do not lump all the media reporters into one category, but keep in mind that we have the internet, and it is a wonderful source."

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