A bad water selloff may leave us all wet

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If the privatization of water and sewage in Ontario is anything like the British experience, Ontario residents are in for a rocky ride. The end destination will be better water quality and sounder infrastructure. But getting there will be both painful and costly to consumers. Ontario can learn from Britain’s mistakes.

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Can high profit flow with safe water?

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Mike Price is happy to take on all comers if the province opens the door to privatization of Toronto’s water and sewer service.

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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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The Common Fisheries Policy: A Sinking Ship

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By any reasonable measure the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy, the sickly sibling of its ailing Common Agricultural Policy, has failed. Created in 1971 to increase productivity, promote technical progress, open up access for European fishermen to all Community fishing grounds and "promote a fair standard of living" for fisherman, the CFP has netted the opposite result: Too many fishermen chase too few fish, fishing villages are as poor as inner-city slums, and competition from overseas markets is increasing due to technological advances in fish storage and shipping.

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Protecting our wilderness

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This is an unusual appeal. I am writing to ask you to help environmental groups in your area rethink their approach to wilderness protection.

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Common law has been defanged

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While reporting on the trial of Wiebo Ludwig and Richard Boonstra for the National Post, Christie Blatchford managed unintentionally to articulate the real issue in the subterfuge that runs as deep as the many hydrocarbon-emitting wells in the northwestern part of Alberta.

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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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How not to save species

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A proposed law forcing land owners to protect endangered species may actually hasten their demise. There are better ways of saving nature.

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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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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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Owners are protectors (review of Property Rights in the Defence of Nature)

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Ask an environmentalist how to ensure an ongoing healthy ecology, and he will almost certainly suggest more government regulation. Who would have thought that a more effective method has always been available within the Eng­lish-speaking world? Yet this method has kept the British Isles green, even though their popu­lation density is 75 times greater than Canada’s.

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Depoliticizing Canada’s fisheries

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Politics – not science – drives far too many decisions at the government department in charge of Canada’s fisheries. The extent to which the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has become politicized, and the tragic results, have been made frighteningly clear over the course of the past year.

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Preserving Canada’s fisheries

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This summer, we received a letter from an Australian lobster fisher. He had just met a Canadian fisher, who had given him a photocopy of an Environment Probe chapter from a book about the crisis in our Atlantic fisheries. Excited about our ideas, he invited us to speak at a conference of fishers, fisheries managers, and scientists from Australia and New Zealand.

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Property Rights and the Defence of Nature: Review

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This is a high-spirited, well-written and informa­tive book on the law as the protector of the environ­ment, a book to be recommended to students in en­vironmental studies and law and economics, a book made more interesting, challenging and useful because its prescriptions are, in my opinion, largely wrong.

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Private fisheries won’t work

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In an article in the Ottawa Citizen, David Lavigne takes issue with Environment Probe’s proposal to establish property rights in fisheries. Continue reading

Vandalism Masquerading as Progress: A History of Lake Ontario’s Fisheries

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Part One of this paper by Martin Nantel reviews the ecological transformation that occurred in Lake Ontario after 1750 and the factors – including overfishing, habitat destruction, and the introduction of exotic species – that contributed to it. Part Two examines the institutions – including the open access regime and “progressive” fisheries management – responsible for the transformation. The paper concludes by arguing for new, locally appropriate institutional arrangements that will set Lake Ontario and its fisheries on an ecologically, economically, and socially sustainable course. Continue reading

Governments Don’t Protect Environment

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When it comes to environmental protection, Canadians are like cocaine addicts: they have an insatiable craving for the very thing that made them sick in the first place. Or maybe I should say they’re like a mistreated puppy: they still love and trust the master who beat them, and they keep coming back for more.

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Capitalizing on free trade

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Back in 1989, Environment Probe campaigned to turn free trade to the environment’s advantage. Since then, the environmental impacts of free trade have been hotly debated. Critics have rightly pointed out that, in theory, governments may be hamstrung in imposing certain environmental standards. But other enterprising environmentalists have capitalized on free trade to reduce subsidies to—and raise standards in—our environmentally destructive resource sectors.

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NIMBY: Learning from the 13th century

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In an editorial in Hazardous Materials Management, Guy Crittenden writes that Property Rights in the Defence of Nature presents “a compelling argument in favour of property rights.”
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