Appeared in the North Shore News – August 30, 2013
Stewart Phillip and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs aren’t the only ones who should be outraged by the Swiss behemoth Nestlé sucking free water out of its well near Hope.
All British Columbians should be furious that this many-tentacled corporate octopus – domiciled in a nation that deserves far more hard-eyed criticism than it ever gets – is drawing 265 million litres of water every year from the well. And sells it. In little bottles. Doesn’t have a permit. Doesn’t need one.
Know of any other enterprise that pays zero for its raw product and without the annoyance of fussy permits? How can other bottlers compete with that? Anyone for a level playing pond? How this can happen in a country with bureaucratic regulatory agencies to the sky, and grossly over-governed – we need more MPs and MLAs like we need more privilege abusers like Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy at the Senate trough – beggars belief.
Grand Chief Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, unsurprisingly supports the Chawathil First Nation, which claims the well is in its traditional territory – a concept, as an aside, guaranteed to screw up B.C. forever except for enriching band councils, lawyers and bureaucrats. But the groundwater issue concerns all.
So deploy some of your famous moxie, Christy Clark, to put revisions to the B.C. Water Act scheduled for 2014 right at the top of the priority list for the legislature fall session. And make Nestlé pay big-time – somewhat more than the cost of a driver’s licence – if it wants to continue the business.
Might this caricature of competition haughtily get up and leave? I’d personally hold the door. Not likely, though.
Nestlé defines corporate obesity. It’s the biggest food company by revenue in the world. It’s No. 1 in the FT (Financial Times) Global 500 and the Fortune Global 500.
If you tried to boycott Nestlé-linked products, you could starve, or die for lack of medicine, or even from ugliness. Wikipedia lists just some of the 8,000 companies it owns, co-owns, has big shares in, or has distribution or other deals with. You’ll recognize some past and present names: Kraft, Carnation, Pfizer, Gerber, Libby’s, Ovaltine, Crosse & Blackwell, San Pellegrino, Perrier (water for those connoisseurs who eschew some of the best tap water from on and below the earth).
Nescafé, Stouffer’s and Belgian chocolate and Greek ice cream makers you’ve never heard of, not to overlook Haagen-Dazs.
Also Rowntree Mackintosh, Aero, Cheerios, Shreddies, Coffee Crisp, Kit Kat, Smarties. Not to forget the pets: Purina, Friskies, Dog Chow.
For the body healthy and the face beautiful: Colgate-Palmolive, Novaris, Jenny Craig, L’Oreal’s many brands, The Body Shop.
With clout like that, Nestlé defines the gulf between market-makers and markettakers.
Nestlé’s homeland, Switzerland, is an anomaly, for sure. There’s something to be said for a neutral country as the clearing house for back-channel diplomacy, wartime refugees, spies, and art contraband and safekeeping.
Shrewdly, the Swiss took 57 years to join the United Nations (2002) and never seem to help anyone but themselves. The government officially described its peacekeeping contribution:
“In early 2012 the number of Swiss citizens deployed abroad totalled 265. However, the Swiss government plans to increase the number of Swiss soldiers available for peacekeeping missions to 500 by 2014.” Wow. What a helping hand. (Or, to be fair, a model for all countries?) Its banks are dragged kicking and screaming into lifting secrecy on US$2.2 trillion stored by international tax evaders – isn’t that laundering the proceeds of crime, hurting the honest in the democracies and the world’s poor? Arguably there’s a better reason for invading Switzerland than Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries where it’s getting late in the year for the “Arab spring.”
Further solving the world’s problems, concerning the allegation of the use of nerve gas by the Syrian government and the reaction: I don’t trust Russia. I don’t trust the West. I don’t trust media coverage. I don’t trust the Syrian government, knowing little about it except as reported by (especially American) media. I don’t trust the Syrian rebels, knowing little about them except as reported by (especially American) media. I trust Voltaire: “In the case of news, we should always wait for the sacrament of confirmation.”
I’d claim that Horseshoe Bay’s Troller Pub serves Vancouver’s finest salmon burger, except that now I rarely try others. It’s that good.
Troller has moved one block into the former Japanese restaurant and rebranded itself as the Troller Ale House. No doubt the burger will be just as succulent, but, oh my, the loss of the pub’s character.
Increasing the number of Commons seats is stupid. The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission’s creation of the riding of Burnaby North-Seymour is the triumph of idiocy over stupidity.
© Trevor Lautens, 2013