Incentives Matter

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EPRF’s presentation to the Walkerton Inquiry’s Public Hearing on Guiding Principles focuses on the need to eliminate conflicts of interest and to internalize costs.

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Responding to the Crisis: Strengthening Regulation Through Privatization

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A presentation to the Safe and Clean Drinking Water Strategies Conference, held in Toronto, Ontario, on July 10, 2001.
 

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The Walkerton Tragedy

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Last May, a deadly strain of E. coli bacteria contaminated the water system in Walkerton, Ontario. A testing lab informed the Public Utilities Commission of the contamination, but, inexplicably, the PUC withheld the information from both the public and the government for the following five days. Not until the medical officer of health, alarmed by the soaring cases of bloody diarrhea in the town, conducted independent tests did the PUC confess its dirty secret. The information came too late: The contaminated water killed six people and sickened 2,000.

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Residents win prominent role at inquiry

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The judge looking into the contamination of this town’s water supply made it clear in a ruling yesterday he wants to be sure the people most affected are heard.

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Canadians not paying too little for water, says utilities group

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Claims by an international think-tank that Canadians pay too little for the water they consume are untrue, according to, the country’s municipal water utilities.

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River pollution: A lawsuit runs through it

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On the surface, a recent B.C. court case seemed to deny a legal right to clean water. But in fact, since the 19th century, common law has given the users of water downstream from a polluter a clear right to seek redress through the courts.

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I’ll Drink the Privatized Water

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In the aftermath of the E. coli outbreak in Walkerton, Ontario, media outlets quickly moved from examining human error as the cause of the infection to pointing the finger at the government for deregulation, off-loading, and privatization. The Tuesday, May 30, 2000 edition of CBC Newsworld’s "Counterspin," was titled, "Don’t Drink the Privatized Water." That show was inspired by the Ontario opposition parties who denounced the privatization of Ontario’s water supply testing as a possible cause for the outbreak.

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Walkerton: Government’s three deadly mistakes

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Three fatal errors by Ontario’s government led to the Walkerton water tragedy that has left at least five dead and more than 1,000 infected over the past week. The government failed to prevent the pollution of the water supply. It failed to prevent the distribution of polluted water. And it failed to recognize that the private sector can handle municipal water supply more competently and safely than the public sector.

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Privatizing water works

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As Halifax considers a private-sector solution to its sewage problem, Elizabeth Brubaker debunks critics’ claims that water privatization is a failure.

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NDP warns against P3 sewage treatment plants

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The New Democrats are cautioning Halifax regional council about pitfalls private ownership could pose for the city’s planned sewage-treatment plants.

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Privatizing water leaves us high and dry

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In her Aug. 5 article “Private operator best for Halifax system,” Elizabeth Brubaker gives CUPE a failing grade, claiming we did not do our homework; yet she has presented no facts to back up her position, a position which appears to be based solely upon ideology.

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Private operator best for Halifax system

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Earlier this year, CUPE national President Judy Darcy proclaimed that the "proposed privatization of new water treatment facilities in Halifax gets a big ‘F’."

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Halifax’s political sewage problem

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Bill Maden figures he takes his dip in Halifax harbour at the only safe time of the year – the dead of winter. For a quarter-century, Mr. Maden, a personal investment advisor, has organized the Polar Bear Club’s New Year’s Day swim.

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Public-private fight focus of sewage debate

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Opinions are mixed regarding the choice to publicly or privately run Halifax’s new sewage treatment plants.  Several competitors are vying for the rights to build the $316 million project, and the Halifax Council has prepared a list of three potential companies while the debate heats up on what types of effects privatization would have on cost, quality and accountability.

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What Margaret Thatcher never said about water

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To refute my article describing the benefits of privatizing water and sewage utilities, Toronto union leader Brian Cochrane cited devastating criticisms from unlikely sources(Letters, March 9). Mr. Cochrane told your readers that former U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher called water privatization her "one mistake," and that an editorial in the Financial Times of London called the privatization "a rip-off, a steal, a plunder, a legalised mugging, piracy, licensed theft, a diabolical liberty, a huge scam, a cheat, a snatch, and a swindle."

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Environment Probe’s tenth anniversary

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I’m feeling a little nostalgic. It’s the tenth anniversary of Environment Probe’s founding, and as I look back over my time here, I find my mind wanders less to the small victories we’ve had from time to time, and more to the rewarding comments I’ve received from supporters over the years, comments that touched and inspired me and led me to squirrel them away in a special file. I’d like to share several of them with you.

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Toronto water fight

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Toronto faces a motion to reject the idea of privatizing its water and sewage systems. Worldwide experience shows that could be a mistake.

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Toronto Needs the Water Privatization Option

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Next Tuesday, Toronto City Council will vote on a recommendation that it rule out the privatization of water supply or sewage treatment in the city. This ill-considered recommendation reflects union poli­tics rather than a reasoned analysis of the merits of private sector involvement. If councillors approve it, they will prevent the city from capturing tremendous economic and environmental benefits.

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Bring back our beaches

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The Beach: The History of Paradise on Earth. That’s the title of a new book that describes the western world’s love affair with beaches. For over a century, we have flocked to sandy shores to escape summer’s heat, to seek spiritual and artistic inspiration, and above all, to have fun. Sadly, many of our beaches are anything but paradises these days. Contaminated by human sewage, they have become sources of sickness rather than delight.

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Privatizing Water Supply and Sewage Treatment: How Far Should We Go?

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This paper, published in Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, was prepared for Property Rights, Economics & Environment: Water Resources, an international conference organised by the Centre d’Analyse Economique and the International Center for Research on Environmental Issues in 1998. In the paper, Elizabeth Brubaker compares four approaches to the privatization and regulation of water and sewage utilities and explores the environmental implications of each approach.

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