The Council of Canadians - Winnipeg Chapter


Winnipeg chooses Veolia for sewage upgrades‏

Posted by Winnipeg Chapter on May 7, 2010 at 3:51 PM Comments comments (0)

The Winnipeg Free Press reports this afternoon that, “The City of Winnipeg has chosen Veolia Canada over two other engineering firms to help conduct $661million worth of upgrades to the city's sewage-treatment plants.”


“The city is poised to enter into a 30-year deal with the Canadian wing of Veolia, a multi-national consulting firm based in France. The deal will see five to 15 Veolia staffers help design upgrades at the sewage treatment plants and assist the city's maintenance efforts. The private firm will not own any facilities and unionized city staff will continue to operate them, said Bryan Gray, one of the creators of the city's new utility.”


Veolia Water (formerly Vivendi Water, originally Generale des Eaux), is the water division of the French corporate giant Veolia Environnement, the world’s largest supplier of water services operating in about 64 metropolitan areas.


As we reported in a campaign blog yesterday, the article notes that, “The city has abandoned a plan to allow a private firm to own part of a subsidiary in the new utility. Instead, the deal with Veolia - which faces approval from executive policy committee and city council -- will see the company assume responsibility for a percentage of any cost overruns and also some of the savings that may flow from more efficient plant operations.”


Still,we will be monitoring this situation very closely.


click here for the full Free Press article.

Katz Responds

Posted by Winnipeg Chapter on May 5, 2010 at 9:39 AM Comments comments (0)

Sam Katz responds to letter from Michael Welch of the Council of Canadians-Winnipeg Chapter.

The Michael's original letter was posted earlier at this blog. click here



Dear Mr. Welch:

Thank you for your letter of February 19, 2010, regarding the City Utility project.

In your letter you raise the issue of the business model by which we hire the necessary expertise to design and build our sewage treatment plants. You quote one of the options that civic staff identified as being reviewed. You also quote me as saying we will have private partners.

I have always stated, and can repeat for you today, my own opinion that the entire sewage treatment project, and indeed our utility, will be 100% owned by City for the citizens of the City of Winnipeg.

Thank you for the opportunity to address this important issue.

Yours sincerely,

Sam Katz


(original letter bellow)

Update from Michael Welch:

"A City Hall reporter told me soon after I sent out the original letter that the plan had not changed and that the Mayor was most likely changing the language to make the plan seem less objectionable than it is.

The Mayor's response suggests no change in the plan, although it is possible they have ruled out financing as a role for the strategic partner. It is possible, the strategic partner wannabes may have backed away given the negative attention surrounding this deal. Keep telling your Councillor "No strategic partnership with these companies!"

"Partner" or "Consultant"... What's in a Name?

Posted by Winnipeg Chapter on March 20, 2010 at 6:07 PM Comments comments (2)

This week's The Uniter gives an update on the current state of the City's plans for the Water and Waste Water Utility upgrades.

“First it was a ‘private partner,’ then it was a ‘strategic partner’ and now it’s a ‘strategic consultant,’” said Trevor Semotok from the Winnipeg Water Watch Committee.

Semotok said this is important because the first two terms have the same meaning, but the third term limits the partnership to be a mere construction contract.

“Using the term ‘consultant’ eliminates the notion of financing and operating [the project],” he said.

The mayor’s office didn’t comment directly on the language change, but referred The Uniter to Bryan Gray, project manager of utility development at the City of

Winnipeg, who confirmed that the now-termed “strategic consultant” will play a role in infrastructure construction but not operating and financing.

Exerpt from: The Uniter, March 17th 2010, WaterWatch - Recent language change in city council eliminates private financing/operating of city’s water utility - by Samuel Swanson (Beat Reporter)


click here to link to original article.


SEEKING CLARIFICATION: "There are no private partners" - Mayor

Posted by Winnipeg Chapter on February 20, 2010 at 1:11 PM Comments comments (1)


An open letter to the mayor of the city of Winnipeg


Dear Mayor Katz:


According to the official document of record, Hansard, you made the following remarks in response to a query by your colleague, Councilor Gerbasi, as to the timeline for selection of a ‘private partner’ for planned upgrades to the city’s wastewater treatment plants…


“Mr. Speaker, just to make this very, very clear, because I know there is a habit of sometimes sending out erroneous messages - this is a city of Winnipeg initiative. There are no private partners. The city is moving forward. There will be expertise from the private sector no different than other projects…”

Mayor Katz, my organization, the Council of Canadians, believes that your statement signals a fundamental change in the city’s approach to managing the provincially mandated wastewater treatment upgrades, and that therefore an official announcement in this regard is warranted.


If the quotes attributed to you are accurate, then the city has undertaken a clear and welcome deviation from the process outlined in its business plan which stated that a private corporation could, as a “strategic partner,” own up to 49% of a subsidiary responsible for the financing, construction and maintenance of said upgrades.


As you know, many citizens and citizens’ groups expressed concerns about this business plan. Experiences with such private-public partnerships around the world have shown that they result in a loss of accountability to the public, rate hikes, lower environmental standards and reductions in workforce – all in the name of making profits for shareholders.


If this plan has been abandoned, it is important that the public be officially notified.


On behalf of the Council of Canadians, I therefore request that you clarify your comments of last month and enlighten the general citizenry as to the exact role of the private sector in Winnipeg’s water and waste services.


Your prompt response is greatly appreciated.


Sincerely yours,

Michael Anthony Welch

Council of Canadians-Winnipeg Chapter

cc: Winnipeg City Council, the Province of Manitoba, media, Council of Canadians, General Public


Letter to the Government of Manitoba

Posted by Winnipeg Chapter on January 31, 2010 at 9:23 PM Comments comments (1)

Below is a sample letter to the Provincial MLA's asking them to keep Winnipeg's water and sanitation services publicly owned, publicly operated and publicly financed with a transparent governance structure for the public good and to enshrine that commitment in legislation.

Dear Government of Manitoba,

Last July, the City of Winnipeg Council passed a motion to create a Municipal Corporate Utility and asked the Province of Manitoba to “pass a regulation under Section 212 of The City (of Winnipeg) Charter to establish the corporation.”

The justification for the new utility is the required – and much-needed – upgrades of the City’s wastewater treatment plants, for which it is seeking to form a partnership with a private, for-profit, multinational corporation.

I believe that water is the lifeblood of the environment and that access to clean water is a basic human right.

I believe that the value of our water to the common good takes priority over any possible commercial value because it is a sacred legacy, a public trust and a collective responsibility.

Therefore, all Manitobans have the right and the responsibility to be involved in major decisions affecting our water.

Too many Manitobans do not have access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation services; this reinforces the need to support, protect and promote these vital public services where they exist.

Manitoba’s municipal water systems are among the safest and most cost-effective in the world.  Water is not only a foundation of a strong community, but also a key lever of our economy that must not be treated as a commodity.

A May 2008 Nanos Research survey of Canadians revealed that 76 percent of respondents trusted public delivery of water more than private for drinking water and sewage treatment.

Citizens trust that any responsible public utility is built on a solid foundation of analysis, research, legislation and policy, public consultation, professional input and a commitment to public service.

The City of Winnipeg’s request is an opportunity for you to insure that the public interest is protected in every municipal utility in Manitoba – today and in the future.

Wastewater treatment, land drainage and flood control are essential to the well-being of every community and are key environmental protection factors.

The infrastructure needed to deliver these services represents a huge proportion of a municipality’s asset base and its construction is a vital tool in long-term planning and sustainable development.

Regulations must be put into place to safeguard public assets and resources by making certain that civic governments remain ultimately responsible for delivering water and sanitation services and that they will be held accountable for these services.

We need legal assurances that this responsibility and these assets and resources cannot be sold, leased, given away or otherwise handed over to any private entity.

Regulations must give priority to public benefit over private profit.  The public interest cannot be advanced or protected where profit is the determining factor in how a utility is run or how services are delivered.

Our water resources must not be sacrificed for profit!

We need mechanisms in place to ensure that the cost of water and sanitation services will not increase substantially.  Major capital and operational cost savings must be passed on to consumers or reinvested in the service delivery infrastructure. A third-party analysis is a requirement to ensure the accuracy of cost savings projections.


Preferential rates to safeguard access to services for all citizens in the service area must take priority over revenue generation!

In the absence of a national water policy, strong legislation is needed to protect all of Manitoba’s precious water resources.

As an elected leader who manages these resources on my behalf, I call on you to demonstrate your clear, concrete commitment to Manitoba citizens – and to future generations – by promoting and ensuring clean and accessible public water and sanitation services for all.

I ask you to confirm this commitment by keeping water and sanitation services publicly owned, publicly operated and publicly financed with a transparent governance structure for the public good and by enshrining this commitment in legislation.


Click here to e-mail this letter to the Govermnet of Manitoba. The letter is editable so you can add your own thoughts.

Sample letter prepaired by the Polaris Institurte.


BLUE WINNIPEG 2009 - For the Record DVD release

Posted by Winnipeg Chapter on January 23, 2010 at 10:12 PM Comments comments (0)
The DVD "BLUE WINNIPEG 2009 - For the Record" documents the activities and presentations from concerned citizens and groups about Winnipeg City Council’s plans to partner with a multinational corporation. This private company would receive up to 49% shares in the waste water services and would design, construct, finance, and operate the water treatment plants.

Included in this video is a record of the July 21st demonstration in opposition to these proposed changes to the Water and Waste Water Utility at Winnipeg City Hall, the day before the city council voted 10 to 6 in favour of the plan.

The DVD features the September 21st Blue Winnipeg presentation by the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians Maude Barlow with Winnipeg City Coucillor Jenny Gerbasi and research associate with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Lynne Fernandez.

Also included is a January 2010 update from Michael Welch of the Council of Canadians' Winnipeg Chapter. The opposition continues!

Portions of the proceeds from the sale of the DVD will  go to the  Council of Canadian' Winnipeg Chapter. Thank you for your support.

click here to purchase the DVD online.



Water Watchers January Alert

Posted by Winnipeg Chapter on January 18, 2010 at 1:23 PM Comments comments (4)

Quoting Dr. Mary LeMaître from January 13, 2010 email:


Greetings, Water Watchers!


In the next few weeks City Hall will select one of three private companies to become a partner in our Waste Water Services. The company chosen would receive up to 49% shares in our waste water services and would design, construct, finance, and operate our water treatment plants.

(N.B. The mayor agrues that our waste water services will remain 100% publically owned. By this he means that the building and the pipes will still belong so us. This still gives the private company control and profit. This is a form of privatization called a P3: Public-Private-Partnership)


Why is this bad? There is a growing world water shortage and private companies are trying to gain control of water and waste water services. They know that there is great profit to be made. They often start gaining control of municipal water systems by starting with waste water services.

Entering into such a contract would also open up NAFTA and put our water and waste water services at risk.


What can we do?

It is very important that we all speak up and let city council know that Winnipeggers are opposed to this plan and that we want our water services to remain in the public's hands. If we say nothing, we will end up with a thirty-year contrct with a private partner.


Please contact your city councillor and let him/her know that you are opposed to the city chosing a private company as a partner:

Councillors Swandel, O'Shaaughnessy, Steves, Pagtakhan, Browaty, Fielding, Nordman, Clement, and Lazarenko are supporting the mayor's plan to sign on a private partner.


Attend the Winnipeg Citizen's Coalition's AGM next Tuesday, January 19, 6:30 pm at the University of Winnipeg Collegiate's Convocation Hall:


Visit the Council of Canadians' Winnipeg Chapter website for more information on the three private compnaies and on water privatization in Winnipeg:


Look for opportunities to speak in front of EPC. Jan. 20: 9:00-12:00- EPC meeting. * This is the most likely time for Mayor to introduce vote on Strategic partner to EPC.  


Ask everyone you know to contact their city councillor.


Included in this email (below and attached) you will find the Manitoba EcoNet water bulletin with updated info on what is happening with our waste water services, a Free Press article on City Hall's plans, as well as an attached poster.


Please circulate widely!


Yours truly,

Dr Mary LeMaître, Chair, Development & Peace, Archdiocese of Winnipeg, and Water Watch


* New information indicates that the EPC will not vote on the three companies until February. Regardless of whether they meet in two weeks or in four, it is important to contact your city councillor as soon as possible to let him or her know that you are opposed to the city choosing a private partner for our waste water services.

Click here for the Manitoba EcoNet water bulletin

Click here for Winnipeg Free Press Article "A city utility plan that kept getting murkier" By: Bartley Kives

Click here for Private Partners Poster



Water and Waste Utility Contract Bidders have Histories of: Poor Performance, Cost Over-runs and Corruption

Posted by Winnipeg Chapter on January 12, 2010 at 12:09 AM Comments comments (8)

According to a Free Press article from this fall, the three companies that the City has short-listed to become a partner in its new Water and Waste Service model are CH2m Hill, Black & Veatch and Veolia.(1)

These three huge multinational corporations all have dubious reputations with regards to cost-over runs, lack of economic accountability, labour practices, and environmental standards. In a later article Journalist Bartley Kives pointed out that "...the final three candidates to become a "strategic partner" with its future utility are similar to the real-life inspiration for the latest James Bond villain."(2) The City is expected to announce which private partner they plan to go with in January 2010. This partner would receive up to 49% control of our Water and Waste Utility.

CH2M Hill

• "CH2M Hill was and is really at the vanguard of this privatized disaster response” also noting that in the case of Sandy Springs that "The entire city infrastructure doesn't work for the city government, but works for CH2M Hill."  (3)

• "The (inspector general) report says the U.S. canceled a contract with Colorado-based CH2M Hill because of cost overruns and paid $4.1 million although nothing was built." (4)

• CH2M Hill has been criticized by lawmakers for receiving no-bid contracts after the Katrina disaster in New Orleans. (5)

• Congressional Democrats question whether CH2M Hill may have a conflict of interest overseeing another corporation (Flour) that they have collaborated with on high-dollar federal contract work in the past. (6)

• "Huge multinational corporations such as Halliburton, Bechtel, AshBritt and CH2M Hill (who have well-documented ties to the Bush Administration and/or members of Congress) have made a fortune from no-bid and contingency contracts to rebuild Afghanistan and Iraq, and have also received similar contracts to clear debris and rebuild the Gulf Coast. And the very same problems have emerged: overcharging, underperformance, and a near complete lack of accountability." (7)

• CH2M Hill's "undocumented" and  "excessive" expenses paid by the taxpayers of Mooresville, North Carolina are being investigated. (8 )

• CH2M Hill, which managed the water and sewer systems in East Cleveland, provided as much as $10,000 a month for "consulting fees" to Cleveland engineer Ralph Tyler, who gave the money to businessman Nate Gray, who used the money for bribes.  (9)

Black & Veatch

• "Data from Black and Veatch’s 2006 California Water Rate Survey show that households in districts with privately owned systems are paying, on average, 20.28 percent more per month for clean drinking water than households served by either municipal systems or special water districts created by citizens and overseen by government officials." (10)

• In November of 2000 Black and Veatch was charged with Unfair Labor Practices in the state of Oregon. (11)

• "Escambia County Utilities Authority fired BV (Black and Veatch) from its job upgrading its sewer plant because “the firm's design work (was) brought into question by the plant's hundreds of recent water quality violations and (an) environmental lawsuit filed by the state;” and the Wastewater Reclamation Authority of Des Moines Iowa, angry with BV for building a sludge storage facility too close to homes, forcing people to relocate."  (11)

• Global problems be come local problems - “We had to make a workforce adjustment based on the global financial situation,” George Minter, Company spokesman for Black & Veatch said in response to company layoffs. “It’s causing some of our energy clients to delay certain projects.” (12)

• Black & Veatch's Tarakhil Power Plant in Afghanistan has been exposed to have significant planning problems, cost over-runs and alleged corruption. (13)


• After serious financial and legal problems emerging from questionable privatization contracts the company adopted the name Veolia Environnement in 2003 when it was sold by former parent company and media conglomerate Vivendi Universal.  "Veolia’s track record in the United States since the 1990s includes privatization failures in communities large and small." (14)(15)

• An employee error that caused a boil-water alert for more than a million people, closing local businesses and canceling school for 40,000 students was only one of the many problems the city of Indianapolis encountered with Veolia. (15)

• A Puerto Rico government commission found the company (Veolia) had racked up $695 million in operational losses, $6.2 million in fines and more than 3,000 operational, maintenance and administrative deficiencies. (15)

•  In 2007, a U.S. District Court found that the Veolia subsidiary acted “acted unfairly and deceptively” to win the contract  to operate the city’s sewage plant, and fined the corporation more than $230,000. (15)

• The city of Angleton, Texas terminated its contract with Veolia and took the company to court, charging it breached its contract by failing to maintain adequate staffing levels, not submitting capital project reports, and charging improper expenses to the maintenance and repair tab picked up by the city. (15)

• Stockholm Council rejected Veolia’s bid for a project in Sweden after citizens took action recognizing that they will not support Veolia due to their unethical practices in other countries. (16)

• "An explosion that killed two sub-contractors at a Launceston waste management plant in 2005 could have been avoided if the company (Veolia) had appropriate risk assesment procedures in place." (17)

• "SA Water (South Australia Water) yesterday started action in the Supreme Court, suing United Water (a subsidiary of Veolia Water) for allegedly issuing false, misleading invoices so taxpayers would foot the bill for its international operations." (18 )

Please help protect our Public Water and Waste Service.  Tell your MLA and City Councillor that Winnipeggers do NOT want Private Partner for the City's new Water and Waste Water Utility.



(1) Winnipeg Free Press - Three-firm race for water job, Choice of 'strategic partner' for utility now narrowed - By: Bartley Kives - September 22,2009 -

(2) Winnipeg Free Press - Quantum of suspicion, Short list of 'strategic partners' for Winnipeg utility would make James Bond look twice - By: Bartley Kives - October,3, 2009 -

(3) Naomi Klein -  The Shock Doctrine (2007)

(4) USA Today - Canceled Iraq contracts cost U.S. $600 million - By: Matt Kelley - November 17, 2008 -

(5) MSNBC - Study: Millions wasted in Katrina contracts - 70% of contracts awarded without full bidding, Democratic report says - August 24, 2006 -

(6) CorpWatch - REBUILDING: AT WHAT COST AND IN WHOSE IMAGE? - By: Rita J. King - August 16th, 2006 -

(7) CorpWatch - How High Can the Katrina Price Tag Go? - August 22nd, 2006 -

(8 )Mooresville Tribune - No receipts? No problem: Town pays company's bills anyway - By: JAIME GATTON - August 22, 2007 -

(9) Citypages - RNC contributor CH2M Hill involved in major bribery scandal - By Kevin Hoffman in National - June 17, 2008 -

(10) Food and Water Watch - Economic Failures of Private Water Systems - Private Control of Water Increases Consumer Costs - December 2007 -

(11) Business & Human Rights resource Centre - Profile of U.S. Corporations Awarded Contracts inU.S./British-Occupied Iraq - Prepared by U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW) for The Workers of Iraq and The International Labor Movement - 2003 -

(12) The Star - Black & Veatch layoffs - By: Kevin Collison - February 9, 2009 -

(13) CorpWatch - Black & Veatch's Tarakhil Power Plant: White Elephant in Kabul - By: Pratap Chatterjee - November 19th, 2009 -

(14) ZNet - Enron-Style Corporate Crime and Privatization, Enron-Style Corporate Crime and Privatization - By: Darren Puscas - June 20, 2003 -

(15) Food and Water Watch - Fact Sheet - A Closer Look: Veolia - July 2008 -

(16) Pressrealease: Veolia looses 3,5 billion EUR contract in Sweden - By: Joakim Wohlfeil - January 21, 2009 -

(17) The Examiner - Deadly Veolia blast could have been avoided, says coroner - By: Zara Dawtrey, Court Reporter - October 28, 2009 -

(18 ) The Advertiser - South Australian government sues United Water over contract - By: Russell Emmerson, Sean Fewster - September 01, 2009 -,,26005948-2682,00.html


New Facebook Group

Posted by Winnipeg Chapter on December 13, 2009 at 8:51 PM Comments comments (0)

On July 22 Winnipeg City Council voted 10 to 6 in favour of creating the new Municipal Utility Business Model, giving a private partner up to 49% controlling interest.


So, done deal?




"It ain't over 'till it's over!!!"

Please consider joining and telling your friends about...

Protect Our Public Water and Waste Service. No to a Private Partner!

...facebook group.


The City is expected to choose and vote for which private partner they are planning to use by late January.

We intend to make our message clear before they do.

NO Private Partner!








1) A private partner would receive up to 49% control of our waste water service.


On page 37 of the Municipal Utility Business Plan released by the City on June 26, 2009 the third point under section 7.4.5 reads "The Utility (referring to the "100% City owned Utility") will have a minimum 51% controlling interest in the strategic partnership." Meaning that the private partner would get up to a 49% controlling interest. Right now the City has short listed three large multinational corporations to become the city's private partner, each with a poor record of corporate responsibility. Private companies in order to lower overhead are often compelled to divert funds from public savings, system maintenance, worker wages or quality control. In effect they put profits over people.



2) No reason to change from the current system.


The City points to the provincially mandated upgrades to the waste water facilities as reason for the adopted plan. Yet this can be done without a private sector partner. The correlation between fixing the system and needing a private partner is completely arbitrary. Moreover, the predicted improvements accrued from the adoption of a private sector partner as forecasted in the Utility Business Plan are poorly substantiated and one-sided. The projected cost savings of creating the new Utility governance model are based on biased and selective information that overestimate the benefits of creating the Utility. Even if the Municipal Utility Planners would be able to manage the costs of the upgrade to the waste water treatment centers, inevitably Winnipeggers will be stuck with higher rates and/or depreciated service in order to turn a profit for the private partner.



3) The public was not properly consulted and the majority public opposition to the plan was ignored.


The City spent $250,000 on a flashy public relations campaign promoting the new Water and Waste governance plan. The survey of public opinion was extremely biased. Giving a people a list of motherhood choices and then interpreting the responses as support for the model is an insult to the participants' intelligence. Furthermore, rushing the final vote on the model through in the middle of July when many people are on vacation is a classic way to minimize the public opposition. On July 22 Winnipeg's elected officials voted 10-6 to create the new agency despite polls taken at that time suggesting 73% of Winnipeggers were not in favour of the city's idea to find a private partner to help create and operate a separate city water and sewer utility.






1) Sign the NEW Petition at


2) Contact your MLA and let them know you are opposed to the City's plan to adopt a private partner to operate a separate city water and sewer utility.


3) Tell your friends. A lot of people were away for summer holidays when the vote went through, so many people are uniformed.






VIDEO Maude Barlow speak at Blue Winnipeg


The Plan before amendments made on July 22, 2009

CCPA Fast Facts: Proposed Corporate Utility could be Costly to Winnipeggers


CCPA Myths and Facts about the City's Business Plan for a Municipal Utility


Join the Council of Canadians Winnipeg Chapter Facebook Group




Marketing Water

Posted by Winnipeg Chapter on October 18, 2009 at 10:49 PM Comments comments (0)


Meera Karunananthan, the Council of Canadians National Water Campaigner reponds to Winnipeg Free Press article Quantum of suspition.

"Re: Quantum of suspicion (Oct. 3).Bartley Kives cedes that corporations like Bechtel have had devastatingimpacts on the lives of people whose water supplies they have raided.Yet he fails to acknowledge that what distinguishes a public utility from a private corporation is that a public utility's main objective isto serve the public interest. This will not be the case once Winnipeg turns its utility into a commercially driven corporation accountable,not to the public, but to an arm's-length board of directors whose mandate will be to boost profit margins.

In Europe, such utilities have done so by expanding their markets to developing countries, where they have raised rates and denied services to thosewho could not afford to pay. Experience with water utilities around the world shows that it is not about who the shareholders are, it is about whether utilities serve people or whether they serve profit.



source: Marketing Water, Letters to the Editor, Winnipeg Free Press, October 13, 2009