Dalhousie Journal of Legal Studies


Scott Gordon


Over the past half century Canada became a signatory to a number of complex and integrated international agreements. Canada’s obligations under these agreements have often been ill-defined and vague. This is particularly evident in regards to Canada’s freshwater resources. This article will examine Canada’s international trade obligations, liabilities and responsibilities under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It will argue that Canada’s piecemeal approach to fresh water is insufficient to safeguard its sovereignty over this indispensable resource. The article begins by providing a comprehensive and global perspective on trade in water by illustrating the prominent position that water is beginning to assume in the discourse of international relations. After situating the issue of trade in water in the global context, the North American perspective is examined. The author evaluates the applicable NAFTA provisions, corresponding tribunal case law, and competing treaty interpretations that potentially threaten Canadian sovereignty over its fresh water resources. The author then outlines and critiques the actions and policies the Canadian Government has implemented to protect its domestic water supply. Finally, a number of policy options are presented that may help ensure Canada’s sovereignty over its fresh water resources. The author’s ultimate conclusion is that only through amendments to NAFTA can Canada once again become author of its own future.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.