Photo: Canada's stand on desertification convention isolates us from the world

(Credit: Lawrence Murray via Flickr)

By Ian Hanington, Communications Manager

Was it the mention of "major scientific meeting" that scared them off? Surely, Canada's government didn't pull out of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification because of the cost. We spend just over $300,000 a year to support it. That's nothing compared to the $26-million cost to taxpayers for a three-month ad campaign for the government's Economic Action Plan.

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Canada is the only country in the world to pull out of the convention. We won't attend a scientific meeting next month in Germany, which will examine solutions to the increasing droughts that have been spreading across the world and destroying valuable farmland. The problem is particularly severe in Africa, where millions of people have been plunged into poverty and many condemned to death. Worse still, Canada pulled out of the convention quietly, without even notifying the UN secretariat.

The government has referred questions to the Canadian International Development Agency, which it earlier announced was being shut down and folded into the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

Ironically, it was a conservative government, under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, that helped negotiate Canada's entry into the UN Desertification Treaty — along with other UN agreements to tackle environmental problems, like UN Convention on Biodiversity.

Canada is becoming increasingly isolated on the world stage, especially when it comes to environmental issues — from pulling out of the Kyoto Accord to shutting down world-renowned research facilities like the Experimental Lakes Area to this latest move. With continued cutbacks and attacks on scientific and environmental programs, resources and organizations, one has to wonder whose interests the government is representing. If the government is abdicating its responsibilities on the environment to the provinces and industry, who will speak for us internationally?

For our government to stop working with the rest of the world to resolve some of the most serious issues we face is a betrayal of Canadian values. After all, as David Suzuki has said, "Nature pays no attention to human boundaries."

March 28, 2013

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Apr 02, 2013
6:51 AM

Can we finally force Harper out of the PM seat yet? Why hasn’t he been thrown away already? He’s turning into the Canadian George W. Bush and I for one am ashamed. ASHAMED for the first time in my life to be a Canadian because of this man.

I’m living in the states and honestly, I’ve been wanting to move back home with my new family for a long time, but not while Harper remains in power. We are world leaders in so much, other countries look to Canada as the positive example of North America. But Harper won’t be satisfied until the rest of the world hates us like they do Americans

Apr 01, 2013
10:07 AM

This taken in conjunction with all the other disheartening news from federal and provincial levels this past while, leaves me feeling that Canada has become more colony than the nation we were trying to become.

The words spoken by representatives are less important indicators than the actions they take when we try to determine where their loyalties lie. This has always been the best way to find the truth. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck..?

The global empire to which we are gradually becoming enslaved, as opposed to empires of the past, did not spring from a state, but from ignorance and, complacence about the dangers of creating a wealthy elite without controls on it’s power.

Mar 31, 2013
9:07 AM

I read that the government cited lack of results from the current program as the reason for their withdrawal. Coincidently, Allan Savory recently gave a talk at TED regarding new data on how de-desertification can be successful.

David, any comments on the above two points? Is the current UN approach not working and do you see any merit in Allan’s work?

Mar 30, 2013
2:52 PM

We have to get these moron Conservatives out of power….they are messing our Great Country up…..real bad!!!

Mar 30, 2013
11:06 AM

I don’t understand — you say questions have been referred to CIDA, but what reasons is the government (via CIDA or elsewhere) giving for their decision? Why do they say that they are doing it?

Mar 29, 2013
8:55 PM

Suzuki biting the hand that feeds him again. The solution is widely known:

Mar 29, 2013
3:57 PM

Yet another profound reason to get our 3 national opposition parties to work together for the next election to defeat these monsters! Please write to your MPs and the party leaders expressing your support for this fight for Canada.

Mar 29, 2013
1:42 PM

Perhaps you need to stop waiting on your government and step up to represent your self. I think that we all need to do this. It will be a good reminder that they only have authority because we say they do. If we simply ignore what they say and go on doing what we will to protect ourselves…there are far too many of us and too few of them to stop us.

The original leaders of our respective nations all appointed themselves, with a few resources and some backers to be sure, but largely on their own initiative.

Perhaps it is time we simply restore our backbones and stand up.

Mar 29, 2013
10:33 AM

I’m not sure if you have seen this. But this scientist has an amazing solution to desertification

Mar 29, 2013
10:01 AM

I’m just going to boycott our government until the next election. I can’t even…. how did this happen.

Mar 29, 2013
7:39 AM

Dear Foundation,

The following Ted Talk is simply the most important presentation you will see in your lifetime:

If I don’t see this posted on your site soon, if you do not forward it to your members and donors, if you do not use your clout to spead it far and wide, then I will have to venture a guess as to what your mandate really is…

Best regards,

J. Theberge

Mar 29, 2013
6:41 AM

Truy disappointing, The Ontario government spent more than 300,000 dollars to impement the speed limiter legislation for commercial trucks. Seems rather silly to ingore a problem such as this doesn`t it!!!! Typical government!!!!!!!!

Mar 29, 2013
5:23 AM

Our government may be realizing that global warming is a scam. Something that most scientist will never admit because it has brought them billions of research dollars. Not everyone falls for all the chicken little lies that you people like to spread. Suzuki said years ago that cow farts were killing the world. In the 70’s there was an ice age coming. Its one thing after another. You called wolf too many time.

Mar 28, 2013
9:16 PM

I personally think that money can be spent better elsewhere by maybe helping one of our neighbors at home… $ 350 000 may not seem like a lot but it can feed 7000 people for a week ($ 50 per person) when truly there are 882,188 people who depend on food banks [let alone the people who avoid food banks out of shame or access] … $86 million a day is spent in interest payments on our Canadian debt alone (think of the possibilities if that did not exist) … which means we can not afford to help others when we cannot help feed ourselves … If someone could tell me what they have ACTUALLY ACHIEVED within the 19 years (date and goal achieved then maybe my stance may change) … you cannot simply donate because it looks good, there has to be just cause with goals achieved where money is not wasted when it can be used for so much more!

Mar 28, 2013
6:14 PM

Freaking Harper!

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