Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chairman and former CEO of the Nestle Group, received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Alberta for “contributions to water management”.A group of approximately 100 students were forcibly removed from the March 1 honorary degree ceremony after they yelled obscenities at administrators as Brabeck-Letmathe went to collect his award. The President and Vice-Chancellor of UofA, Indira Samarasekera, is positioning the school to Take-the-Plunge as a “global leader on the whole in water. We have a hundred professors and a thousand workers in the area”. She says the honorary degree for “water leadership” was “put in by respected academics and intellectuals, the nominations were vetted by committees of the senate, and independent voices, so in some respects this is as a result of a due process”.
Here in Ontario the Wellington Water Watchers have opposed the Nestle’s bottling in Aberfoyle, Ontario, outside of Guelph. According to Guelph resident Jennifer Summer, Nestle’s Aberfoyle pumping operation goes “against the deepest common life interest of Ontario’s citizens and their futures”. The Wellington Water Watchers opposed Nestle’s 10 year license renewal to pump 24/7. This license costs Nestle a refreshing $3000 dollars. The group argues Nestle’s operations have a harmful effect on “nearby Mill Creek, the Grand River watershed, and the local aquifer”.
The Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) has allowed Nestle to continue pumping approximately 4.7 million litres of “Pure Life Water” per day from two ground wells, one in Aberfoyle and the other near Erin, Ontario. Where they get the bottles, what the bottles leech into the water, how the bottles are made and disposed of, and the fossil fuels and electricity required to transport and refrigerate the bottles, is not within the scope of this article. Academics and students from across Canada have added their voices in rhetorical outrage. Professor Cambre, of the University of Western Ontario, or “Western University” writes “there should be more outrage at the disgraceful comportment of UofA President Indira Samarasekera in her utter disregard of the overwhelming evidence of Nestle’s unethical and criminal disregard for human life”.