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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Meeting with Maude Barlow

Caroline Graham of the Rivers SOS group organised a meeting with visiting Canadian writer and political activist, Maude Barlow. Maude has recently received considerable publicity in Australia through several interviews on Radio National.

Maude Barlow, listening intently

If I were to tell you that the sub-title of her book "Blue Gold" is "The battle against corporate theft of the world's water" you will get an idea of where Maude is coming from, when discussing water politics.
Maude making a point, to an attentive audience.
Maude, Caroline, Kim and Julie.

She is the Chairperson of the "Council of Canadians" . The Council of Canadians is a citizens' organization that advocates for progressive policies on behalf of its members across the country. The Council concentrates its advocacy around the core issues of fair trade, public health care and the right to water. Speaking with Maude, it is apparent that the swamping of Canadian Governmental issues by the USA, especially when it came to "free trade" issues (i.e., the realisation that Free Trade really means reduction of obstacles to American corporations doing what they want). Maude even apologised to us, as Australians, that the deplorable anti-Australian "Australia-US Free Trade Agreement" is based upon a model which was first accepted by the Canadian Government of the time. This legislation was introduced by the Howard Government, negotiated by Mark Vaile. It is a disgraceful document which weakens Australia's sovereignty in trade issues. The relevant Canadian/USA/Mexico Agreement is now known as NAFTA.
Caroline, Julie, Dianne and Maude (in foreground)
I first heard about Maude Barlow, following a Radio National interview some months ago. A recent interview with Maude Barlow, on 16 June 2008 may be accessed here. Various transcripts of ABC interviews with her, over many years, may be found at this linked Search of ABC Radio National's website

She has been touring Australia promoting her latest book Blue Covenant.

My friend in Melbourne, Miss Eagle, a fellow blogger, went to hear Maude speak last week, at the Melbourne Writers' Festival. She was so excited that she immediately emailed me, telling me about Maude.

Fortunately, Caroline had already organised for our groups to attend a talk Maude was to give at the Ashfield Library, in Sydney, and then for us to have private meeting with Maude in the hotel where she was staying. All this came to pass last Thursday, I am pleased to say.

Caroline Graham, Julie Sheppard and Alan and Dianne Page of the Rivers SOS group, and Bev Smiles, a coal and water campaigner from the Goulburn River (Hunter Valley) and Mudgee area and Kim Martin, and Bernard Eddy and myself (all from the Save Water Alliance) met with Maude in Sydney privately after the Ashfield Library lecture. We discussed a series of interesting possibilities about future co-operative water conservation campaigning in Australia.

Myself, Bev, Kim, Bernie, Maude, Caroline, Julie and Alan
Alan and Dianne Page of RiversSOS, with Maude Barlow


Gouldiae said...

G'day Denis,
All power to you and to the group. Thank goodness for the interest and energy of such grass roots bodies.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Gouldiae
Our efforts have been entirely progressed by local groups. Volunteers are the backbone of this country.
As your local community has demonstrated with that park and wetland which you talked about a few weeks ago.
We are hoping to pull together a national alliance of small groups - if we can. More about that later.
Thanks for the encouraging voice.

Green Faith said...

Hey Denis, I think we ought to go to Canada on a fact-finding mission and find a fact or to about the Council of Canadians. With as much money as we haven't, we would probably have to wash dishes on a tramp steamer to Vancouver and beg beds across the Rockies and beyond because you'd have to go and see Leo. But what about a Council of Australians?

Blessings and bliss

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Green Faith
Oh, yes, why didn't I think of a world tour to start our next venture?
Keep your ears open about some kind of national body, but probably not a "Council of Australians". Nice idea, but somehow I just cannot see Australians recognising the need, yet. Maude said that it was the dominant presence of the US of A which made it possible. Whereas, here, we have all sleepily rolled over, when Mark Vaile told us that the Aus:US Free Trade Agreement would be good for us.
We have been exploring the possibility that the Kangaloon Aquifer water could (legally) be exported by a private corporation using the terms of the Aus:US Free Trade Agreement. We have told Nathan Rees, as Water Minister. I wonder if he was listening. I doubt it.