This article examines the current state of our guardianship of our vital fresh water resources and some of the actions taken by the former Conservative federal government which adversely affected their protection. It also examines reactions to those moves, including promises by the new Liberal federal government to remedy this situation.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Environmental studies, world issues, politics

Key Questions to Explore:

  • What are the impacts of the actions taken by the Conservatives?
  • How good is our current guardianship of this valuable resource?
  • What is likely to be done to remedy this situation?

New Terminology:

Omnibus legislation, stewardship

Materials Needed:

The article divided into segments – each segment separated by a horizontal line in the article. There will be four such segments. Make enough copies of each segment so that each group member will have a copy of their assigned segment. (See Action (lesson plan and task) below)

Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

When Canada’s natural resources are discussed the focus is normally on such areas as oil production and mining. More and more, however, Canada’s fresh water supply is garnering attention. A growing world fresh water shortage is directing more and more attention to the stewardship we are providing for this most important resource. As society’s needs increase and t large areas of the world start searching for fresh water sources our stewardship of this valuable resource will become increasingly important. The previous Conservative government under Stephen Harper altered existing legislation, thus weakening our ability to safeguard this resource. Through the use of such practices as omnibus legislation, which prevented debate on a specific clause, the Navigation Protection Act, Species At Risk Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, among others, were altered, reducing the oversight of the environment.

What then, is our current state of guardianship over this very valuable resource? Do we need to be concerned about our ability to protect our fresh water? If so, what needs to be done and who should do it? These are questions that this lesson will raise with the students and, through reading and discussion have them decide their level of concern.

Action (lesson plan and task):

  • Begin the lesson by asking the students to list Canada’s most important natural resources.
  • Record their answers and, if fresh water is not on the list, draw their attention to this resource.
  • Indicate to them that the focus of the lesson will be on our stewardship of this increasingly valuable resource.
  • Ask them to indicate whether or not they are satisfied with what they see to be our level of stewardship or if, indeed, they even know what it is.
  • Once they have responded, read to them the first segment of the article which ends with the first horizontal line.
  • Indicate to them that the task today will be to assess how good we are at being responsible guardians of our fresh water and what, if anything, we need to do.
  • Explain to them that this will be done through a jigsaw activity and divide the class into four home groups – A,B,C and D.
  • Once they are in these groups have the students number off with the first group starting with the number 1, the second group with the number 2 etc.
  • Once they have numbered off have the students reform into their numbered groups. These will be the expert groups.
  • Once they are in their numbered groups, provide group 1 with the part of the article that starts where you stopped reading and continues until the next horizontal line in the article.
  • Give group 2 the segment that starts “under the Conservatives, a raft of regulatory rollbacks” and continues until the next horizontal line.
  • Give group 3 the segment that starts “Watchdogs decry a ‘worrisome’ lack of oversight” and continues until the next horizontal line.
  • Give group 4 the remaining section.
  • Have the groups read and discuss the material and prepare a report which they will teach to the others when they return to their home groups.
  • Allow the groups time to complete their task and then have them reform into their home groups.

Consolidation of Learning:

  • Have the members of the group, in turn, give their reports to the other members of the group and answer any questions that may arise.
  • Once the groups have finished these expert reports reconvene the class as a whole and hold a discussion during which the students can indicate their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the current level of our stewardship of our fresh water resource.
  • Conclude the discussion by asking them to indicate what, if anything, they believe needs to be done to ensure the safety of our fresh water.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

The students will be able to:

  • Identify recent actions concerning our fresh water and whether or not those actions have generated concern for them
  • Indicate their level of satisfaction with our stewardship of our fresh water.
  • Suggest actions that they feel are necessary to safeguard our fresh water.

Confirming Activity:

  • As a concluding and confirming activity, have the students submit a writing assignment in which they indicate why it is important that we safeguard our fresh water and what they feel needs to be done to ensure that safeguard.