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UN Water Advisor Praises Toronto Bottled Water Ban

CONTACT:  Dylan Penner, 613-795-8685, dpenner@canadians.org

TORONTO, Ontario – Council of Canadians,  December 3, 2008 – The City of Toronto’s bottled water ban and renewed commitment to public access to water is a new milestone in the international struggle against the commodification of water, says Maude Barlow, senior advisor on water to the United Nations and national chairperson of the Council of Canadians.

“The City of Toronto should be commended for its decision to stop selling bottled water in public facilities. Water shouldn’t be treated like a product at all but as a public trust that we all share in common,” says Barlow. “When a city the size of Toronto recognizes this, and recognizes its responsibility to improve access to public water supplies, I think we can say bottled water’s days are numbered across Canada and perhaps even internationally.”

Last night, Toronto City Council voted in favour of a resolution that will ban the sale or distribution of bottled water at Civic Centres immediately while authorizing city staff to work on removing bottled water from all remaining City facilities by 2011. Meanwhile, the City has dedicated to improve accessibility to public tap water. The Council of Canadians is encouraged by the resolution, which has set a new milestone in the struggle against the commodification of water and passed by a wide margin in a vote of 30-13, despite heavy industry lobbying efforts.

“This is simply about saying no to an irresponsible and redundant product,” says Meera Karunananthan, water campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “The bottled water industry has spent millions trying to convince Canadians to buy a product that we can get for free from our taps at equal or higher quality in most places. The environmental impacts of bottling water, and the fact that most plastic bottles end up in the landfill, just add to the number of reasons Toronto, and other cities across Canada, have voted in favour of bottled water bans.”

On Monday, as the debate on the Toronto bottle ban got underway, the Council of Canadians filed a complaint with Advertising Standards Canada against Nestlé’s claim in advertisements that the bottled water industry is the “most environmentally sustainable” industry in Canada. The challenge, filed with allied groups, alleges that Nestlé infringed the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards requirements of honesty, truth, accuracy, fairness and propriety in advertising. A decision on the complaint is pending.

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