Friday, March 29, 2013

Canada Withdraws from UN Efforts to Combat Desertification

The Canadian government, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has opted to withdraw from the UN's global desertification convention which is known by the acronym CCD. Of the 193 countries involved, Canada is the only country to pull out.

Due to over-farming and over-grazing in the prairie provinces (Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan), 200,000 km of the country's breadbasket suffer from desertification. The affected areas cover 80 percent of the country's farm lands.

When it comes to environmental issues Canada is increasingly isolated on the world stage. Withdrawing from a global effort to combat desertification, is but the latest environmental insult from Canada's ruling Conservative government.

The government has passed budgets which gut environmental agencies, This government has pulled out of Kyoto, silenced Canadian environmental scientists and more recently they tried to muzzle American scientists. Canada was also an environmental Pariah at last summer's Rio+20, Through the expansion of the tar sands (the dirtiest energy on Earth) the Canadian government appears to be focusing its energy on expanding its role as a dirty energy superpower. While the Conservative government has abdicated almost all of their environmental responsibilities, they have shown a steadfast commitment to dirty energy.

The Globe and Mail reported that the reason Prime Minister Harper gave for Canada's withdrawal from the CCD was that the program is too bureaucratic and a poor use of tax payer dollars. This is a weak pretext as the Canadian government contributes a paltry $315,000 to the CCD.

Across Canada conservation groups are working in communities and schools to share better approaches to grazing and better farming techniques. While Canadians are doing more to stop desertification, the federal government has decided this is a good time to do less.

Robert Fowler, a former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations, said Canada’s abandonment of the convention amounts to a “departure from global citizenship. It has taken climate-change denial, the abandonment of collective efforts to manage global crises and disregard of the pain and suffering of the peoples of sub-Saharan Africa (among many others) to quite a different level,” Mr. Fowler said in an e-mail.

Even by Conservative standards the Harper government has abdicated its environmental obligations. Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, helped to negotiate Canada's entry into the UN Desertification Treaty as well as other UN agreements to tackle environmental problems, like UN Convention on Biodiversity.

“Anything that they’re involved in that can lead to more evidence that we’re a planet in crisis environmentally they don’t want to be part of,” said Maude Barlow, head of the Council of Canadians and the author of a forthcoming book on global droughts. “They simply do not want this information coming forward.”

The real reason that Canada withdrew from the CCD may be that the government wants to avoid a forthcoming scientific meeting in Germany scheduled for April. This Conservative government is hostile to unfettered scientific inquiry because it exposes the Harper regime as perpetrators of what can only be described as a multi-tiered environmental genocide.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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