On RMs and Water

While I was on CBC’s page for that last post I saw this and it pissed me off:

 The Idle No More movement and Saskatchewan’s rural municipalities are on opposite sides of the fence regarding protection for navigable water. Members of Idle No More have been in the headlines recently with flash mobs and road blockades across Canada in protest of a budget bill that they say affects First Nations rights. Among their concerns is the federal Navigable Waters Protection Act, which protesters say takes away their right to consultation on construction projects that could affect water bodies. The chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Perry Bellegarde says indigenous rights over land bordering water were never given up in the treaties. “And so we need to be involved with the whole issue of water, and the monitoring, and the control, and the review, and the regulation and everything else,” he said.

But members of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) are claiming a victory with the change to navigable water legislation. “We’re ecstatic about that,” president David Marit told delegates to SARM’s mid-term convention back in November. “It’s a long fight that we’ve had to deal with and we finally got what we wanted.” Under the omnibus Bill C-45, the law has been renamed the Navigation Protection Act. Small streams are no longer under federal scrutiny. In fact, in Saskatchewan, only three bodies of water remain under Transport Canada’s oversight: the South Saskatchewan River, the North Saskatchewan River and Lake Athabasca.

I’m surprised that rural Saskatchewan politicians are happy about drastically reduced protection for the water systems flowing through them. Removing protections was not about making it easier to approve bridges and culverts, as RM politicians claim — it’s about making it harder to adequately gauge the environmental impacts of mining projects and pipelines. Because Conservatives lurve pipelines and mines regardless of the cost. And they don’t like complicated science and its stinky “facts”.

Obviously, short term economic benefits ought to be balanced against long-term environmental costs. The changes these RMs apparently love will ultimately mean more pollution and more environmental damage in their municipalities. What a bunch of short-sighted ninnies. Suggesting this is about bureaucracy and bridges misses the point.

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Author: Stephen Whitworth

Prairie Dog editor Stephen Whitworth was carried to Regina in a swarm of bees. He's been with Prairie Dog since May 1999 and will die at his keyboard before admitting this was all a terrible, terrible mistake.