Last month in Fire This Time Volume 13 Issue 5 we brought you the story of why the Philippines was threatening war against Canada.
Read the article here
As it turns out since 2013 and 2014 over 100 containers (or 1,500 tonnes) of Canadian garbage have been rotting in the Philippines. The containers were shipped to the Philippines by a private Canadian company, who claimed it was recycling. However, when the containers were opened, Filipino authorities found dirty diapers, appliances, electronic waste, food waste, household garbage, as well as potentially hazardous waste.
Although Canada signed onto the Basel Convention in 1992 - which is meant to stop wealthy countries from shipping their garbage to developing nations - the government of Canada has been slow to act. Behind the scenes, the government of Canada has been putting pressure on the Philippines to take care of the problem themselves. However, the Philippines flatly refused to do this, and in April 2019 President Duterte earned global attention when he declared, "I will declare war against [Canada]. I will advise Canada that your garbage is on the way. Prepare a grand reception. Eat it if you want to."
Suddenly, after years of dragging their feet, the government of Canada was embarrassed, exposed, and interested in solving this clearly made-in-Canada problem.
Victory for the Filipino people! Canada will take back its Garbage
According to a May 26, 2019 article printed in the Province Newspaper titled, “Burnaby incinerator to take Philippines trash,” the Filipino people have secured a major victory and a solution to the problem is now in the works.
Journalist Scott Brown writes, “the prodigal trash will be accepted as special handle waste under Metro Vancouver’s tipping fee bylaw of $250 a tonne which works out to $375,000. The federal government will be responsible for all costs, Metro Vancouver said.” The Burnaby incinerator runs what is deemed a “waste-to-energy” facility, which produces electricity by burning garbage.
This victory is an important reminder that in order to cut costs and increase their profits, corporations and governments are off-loading whatever burden they can onto working and oppressed people in so-called “third world” countries. As people living in Canada, we have a duty to stand with these countries in defence of their right to a healthy environment and climate.
Canada has a real garbage problem
Imperialist countries, like Canada, are some of the world's heaviest polluters per capita. In fact, a November 2017 article for Canadian Geographic titled, "Canada's dirty secret" explains, "The 720 kilos per capita of waste produced annually by every Canadian is about twice what is produced per capita in Japan, and as much as 10 times what is produced by a half-dozen countries in Africa. More alarmingly, our production is seven percent higher than per capita output of waste in the United States, which all but invented consumer excess." What does this mean? Canada is the largest producer of garbage per person of any country in the world.
It is also important to note that Canada is a toxic world polluter as the highest emitter of greenhouse emissions per person on the planet. In November 2018 the Globe and Mail Newspaper published an article declaring, “Canadians produce three times more greenhouse gas emissions than G20 average”.
While consumerism and the push to buy lots of new products are partly to blame under the capitalist market system. Numerous studies show that the majority of this waste - both garbage and Greenhouse gas emissions – come from private businesses, corporations, and industrial waste, not from household garbage like that which it seems was dumped in the Philippines.
While it is important that the government of Canada is planning to rectify the situation with the people and the government of the Philippines, we must remember it came only after Trudeau and Canada were exposed on the international stage.
This demonstrates the importance of international solidarity. The people of the Philippines have been protesting for years in front of the Canadian Embassy in Manilla. However, it was when this situation grabbed international headlines, that their demands grew louder and they won an important victory against imperialist Canada.
As working and oppressed people living in Canada, we need to demand more of the government of Canada to confront environmental issues, like garbage, but also the larger questions facing Canada in this ongoing climate crisis.
Nevertheless, for now, we take the time to celebrate this crucial victory with our brothers and sisters in the Philippines!
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