Protesters demand protection for Ontario's water
TORONTO - The Ontario legislature was a little water-logged Thursday after activists brought their concerns about protecting the province's water -- along with some jars of H2O.
Environmentalists, labour activists and human rights advocates were among those who rallied at the legislature during a rainy afternoon.
The activists say Premier Dalton McGuinty should be protecting Ontario's water from pollution caused by industry and development.
As speakers addressed the rally, long blue banners waved overhead and protesters carrying jars of their local drinking water walked through the fluttering blue tunnels to deliver their message.
Organizers say they want the government to create a provincial water strategy that will protect Ontario's watersheds from what they call a growing crisis.
Josh Garfinkel, a campaigner for Earthroots, says the government should be looking at the "big picture" to see how much water is available and how much is being lost to urban sprawl, climate change and pollution.
"There is an urgent need for a provincial water strategy with teeth and the leadership necessary to enforce it," Garfinkel said.
Maude Barlow, national chairwoman of the Council of Canadians, added: "There is a global water crisis happening right now and Ontario is already feeling the impacts."
"We need real protection for our water more than ever, but Premier McGuinty is taking us down the wrong path."
Other speakers complained about loopholes in current regulations that allow problematic projects to proceed to the point where full-scale community organizing is the only way to stop them.
Environment Minister John Wilkinson responded that water protection is a priority for the McGuinty government.
"We've passed laws to protect drinking water at the source and to ban the export of Ontario's water," Wilkinson said.
"If passed, the proposed Water Opportunities Act would establish Ontario as a water technology leader and help Ontarians use water more efficiently," he added.