I was pretty angry last night.
I had just gotten back from evening Mass at a francophone parish in Ottawa (not my usual parish). Right after the homily, a parishioner gave a 7-minute pre-baked spiel from Development and Peace on the evils of bottled water. I felt like throwing up. Next week, I think I’ll bring a bottle of Evian to Mass.
The lady tried to convince us that bottled water was a grave problem and then she asked us to sign “pledge cards” which were handed to us at the entrance and which include the following commitments:
By signing this pledge, I commit to supporting publicly owned and operated water systems. One of the ways I can do that is to choose tap water over bottled water, whenever possible.
I commit to working to create bottled water free zones in my home and in the public places where I spend my time. These include my university, school, parish, workplace and community. I will also support efforts to have bottled water replaced by tap water in all municipal and provincial public spaces where safe water is available.
So not only are we supposed to give up bottled water, but we’re supposed to “evangelize” others at work, in our families, schools, etc. so that everybody would see the light and give up bottled water.
For a second I had to shake my head and ask myself what denomination this was. Catholicism or Bottle-ism? It ruined my mood for the rest of Mass.
Even worse, the pastor followed-up by saying that the signing of these pledge cards was like an act of faith. Therefore, since we had taken several minutes for D&P’s speil and were falling behind schedule, we could skip the Profession of Faith and jump directly to the prayer intentions.
The cards were gathered during the Offertory, at the same time as the collection. I typically volunteer to help with the collection, but today I just couldn’t stomach it. I wasn’t going to be complicit in this D&P madness.
Just to be clear: I understand that too many people in the Global South don’t have access to clean drinking water. This is a tragedy that needs to be remedied ASAP. But it takes a massive leap of logic to jump from that premise to the notion that Canadians should stop drinking bottled water.
The crux D&P’s argument goes like this:
“The bottling and selling of water creates a culture where drinking water is viewed as a commodity or a private good, available only to those who can afford to pay.
In the Global South, sales of bottled water are on the rise. At the same time, water sources are increasingly being privatized. Bottled water should never be viewed as an alternative to safe, accessible public water systems.” (Source)
There’s a huge gap in the logic between the two paragraphs above. If you buy that argument, then I have a used car to sell you. Allowing people to charge for bottled water is merely a recognition of the costs of providing this service. Even tap water requires us to pay through our taxes. It’s not free. More and more municipalities are implementing water counters on homes to charge people according to the volume of water they use. This makes perfect sense to me. Tap water is costly to provide, not only because of the filtration and treatment plants, but also because of the thousands of kilometres of expensive pipes that are buried underground. If somebody wants to flood their lawn with 3 inches of water every day, you’re darn right they should pay for that.
Yes, people need cheap access to water. But bottled water and tap water can coexist peacefully, as they do in so many countries. If corporations in the Global South have bought up the key water sources and are reducing access, then governments can step in to ensure access. Monopolies are rarely a good thing and typically require government oversight to prevent abuse. But the ownership of water sources in, say, Indonesia, has nothing to do with my drinking bottled water in Canada. Nothing at all.
What tips D&P’s hand on the real reasons behind this campaign is the fact that they insist that tap water be provided by “publicly owned and operated water systems“. In other words, it’s not sufficient that water be made available cheaply to the entire population. It also needs to be run by the government. That’s a clear giveaway on the Marxist underpinnings of D&P’s ideology. It permeates everything they do. And it’s subsequently no surprise that a key spokesperson for this movement is none other than Jack Layton, leader of the NDP.
Thanks be to God, the Canadian bishops have rejected D&P’s bottled water campaign and were actually drinking bottled water at their recent Plenary Assembly in October. I suspect that D&P’s bottled water campaign is therefore going to dry up during the next 12 months and we won’t hear about it anymore.