Canada pulls out of UN drought pact

The Harper government is taking another giant leap towards making Canada the least-green country on the planet — by withdrawing from the international convention to combat desertification (Mike Blanchfield, “Canada quits UN drought convention,” Globe and Mail, 27 March 2013):

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 federal cabinet last week ordered the unannounced withdrawal on the recommendation of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, ahead of a major scientific meeting on the convention next month in Germany.

The cabinet order “authorizes the Minister of Foreign Affairs to take the actions necessary to withdraw, on behalf of Canada, from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, in those Countries Experiencing Severe Drought and/or Desertification, particularly in Africa.”

Canada signed the convention in 1994 and ratified it in 1995. Every UN nation – 194 countries and the European Union – is currently a party to it.

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.

Mr. Baird has suggested the closing of the think tank was because the government did not want to pay for advice that did not fit with the government’s general direction.

Photo credit: Gerald Simmons

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