At first, support from Abbotsford Mayor George Peary for the proposed P3 water project may appear to be in bad taste. But we need to be mindful that the Conservative government has not provided him with any choice.
The proposed P3 is not simply a local issue. It is a symptom of the Conservative strategy that invites private interests to take priority over public concerns.
This project will shift how the communities of the Fraser Valley stand in relation to one another. When Peary talks about selling water to neighbouring communities at a premium, regional discrimination and economic injustice become quite clear.
Charging families for water will deepen the economic inequality that already exists within the municipality. Service charges will be unable to create balance between those who can afford to pay and those who cannot, and to make matters worse, Abbotsford’s self-interest will have been used to establish a regionally oppressive water service plan, a product of the federal Conservative agenda.
To be fair to the Conservative ideology, immediate benefits can result from the privatization of government services. When foreign investment replaces government spending, it counteracts the trade deficit, increasing the value of the Canadian dollar, and helps to balance the budget. However, in the long run, the supply costs passed on to local users must create private profit.
After reflecting on the project, three points become clear.
First, it is Abbotsford’s only option for federal funding; second, the plan is going to cause local and regional problems that may not be fairly considered by Abbotsford’s elected officials; finally, the Conservative government has yet to be held responsible for pitting the interests of the municipalities against one another to further the expansion of its ideology.
Dustin G. Ellis