Rogue Nation Canada

Via the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:

The Harper government is pulling out of a United Nations convention that fights droughts in Africa and elsewhere, which would make Canada the only country in the world outside the agreement.

The abrupt move caught the UN secretariat that administers the convention off guard, which was informed through a telephone call from The Canadian Press.

“Desertification, along with climate change and the loss of biodiversity, were identified as the greatest challenges to sustainable development during the 1992 Rio Earth Summit,” says the secretariat’s description of the 1994 convention.

It calls the convention the “sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management.”

The decision could stoke more criticism of the Harper government’s record on the environment.

Canada, along with Japan, Russia and New Zealand, joined the United States in opting out of the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

The government has also faced widespread criticism for muzzling scientists, leading to a recent complaint to the federal information commissioner to look into the matter.

Its decision to cut the funding for the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy has also sparked an outcry.

Civilization is unraveling under environmental pressure. Maybe that is unsurprising. But who would have expected Canada to be the one pulling on the thread?


  1. UNCCD isn't my idea of civilization. Ineffectual grandiloquent windbaggery. Like other self-congratulatory supranational doodads, it owes its continued existence almost entirely to its name. I mean, who could possibly be opposed to combating desertification?

    In another CBC article, a Canadian opposition spokesman tried to defend UNCCD by saying that its aim isn't to deliver anti-desertification programmes. No, it's all about the altogether more important business of 'working collectively with other partners to better understand what happens with drought that leads to famine that leads to insecurity'. That is, apparatchiks from Canada and Mali should meet in a five-star hotel in Germany and swap notes about the links between rainfall, crop yields and Islamist insurgency in their home countries. Super.

    Here's the essence of UNCCD's current 10-year plan (2008-2018):

    * make UNCCD a global authority on the Science, Technology and Knowledge of desertification by holding scientific conferences and finding ways to measure UNCCD's impact on actual desertification (that's brave of them)

    * improve the reporting of signatories' UNCCD-related activities (perhaps they mean this sort of thing: UNCCD has yet to agree on a common definition of desertification; Canada's last report was mostly blanked; Albania's was mostly bollocks)

    * organize campaigns to raise awareness of UNCCD (Albania is doing quite well in this regard: it reckons a quarter of its population is now up to speed on the synergies between UNCCD, UNFCCC and CBD)

    * 'thematic priorities' (pious waffle about gender mainstreaming and the rights of indigenous peoples)

    * investigate possible synergies with UNFCCC and CBD (still pending, so Albania is actually doing very well indeed)

    * 'capacity building' (set up a website to publicize courses on subjects related to the 10-year plan, help NGOs find staff and volunteers, and promote the 10-year plan)

    In short, UNCCD is a complete waste of time, effort and money. Canada done good.

    (Next week: why the wholly toothless UNCCD and UNFCCC are better than similar doodads that bite. Watch out, ECHR and ICC!)

  2. First of all, this isn't the Canada I have been proud of and have been holding up to the Americans (whom I so dearly love) as an example of how a society can organize itself.

    Second, if this were an isolated case it might be Canadian leadership. But as it stands, it is a case of Canadian defection.

    Third, patience with the absurdities of international negotiation has always been not only a Canadian strength but a Canadian necessity. A second rank power whose only neighbor is a superpower clearly is in need of a strong international order as a matter of self-preservation. Canada putting its lot in with the most cynical aspects of American civilization is not likely to be reciprocated in the long run when push comes to shove.

    The Harper government is betraying Canada on behalf of a 39% vote share. This is nothing like historical Canadian conservatism. It conserves nothing.

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