CANADA AND THE DISGRACEFUL SAGA OF HAZARDOUS WASTE DUMPING
In response to information that Canadian companies illegally shipped at least 2,300 metric tons of waste overseas in the last five years, Kathleen Ruff, founder of the environmental advocacy group RightONCanada and Rideau Institute Board member, bluntly comments:
We should stop using developing countries as our dump site.
It seems that Canada is consistently failing to take any meaningful steps to curb Canadian companies from shipping illegal waste overseas.
Since 2017, Ottawa has identified well over 100 shipping containers of waste that have been illegally transported to developing countries from Canada, carrying more than 2,300 metric tons of garbage. Yet, Canada’s response has been only to issue warnings or fines of either C$400 or C$2000.
Characterizing these fines as “laughable”, Ruff concludes:
It shows a lackadaisical attitude on the part of the government. They’re sending a message to the world that trivializes the seriousness of the issue.
Conservative MP Scot Davidson — who is trying to pass a bill that would ban the export of plastic waste — described the government’s enforcement efforts as a “joke”:
You get more for a speeding ticket on the 417.
Although Davidson’s private member’s bill has the support of all opposition parties, environmental advocates say it only targets waste labeled for final disposal, not “the heart of the problem”, which is material misidentified as recyclable.
Canada failing to implement international ban
Kathleen Ruff outlines the action that Canada should be taking:
Canada should ratify the amendment to the Basel Convention which bans the shipment of hazardous waste, including plastic scrap, to the developing world.
The Basel Convention is an international treaty designed to reduce the flow of waste from wealthy nations to poorer countries. The ban amendment has now been ratified by over 101 countries, but Canada is not one of them.
Yet another American loophole
Ruff also points out that Canada sends the vast majority of its plastic waste to the United States, which is not a signatory to the Basel Convention, and can therefore export waste more freely to the developing world.
This is an appalling story of Canada’s failure to ‘walk the talk’ on environmental protection and on the most basic fundamentals of good global citizenship.
We call upon the Government of Canada to forthwith ratify the Basel Convention amendment banning the export of hazardous waste to developing countries and to introduce meaningful steps to effectively enforce the ban.
Please email the Minister of Environment — the Honourable Steven Guilbeault — and your local MP demanding this long overdue action:
- Steven.firstname.lastname@example.org; joanna.Dafoe@ec.gc.ca (Director of Policy)
- Steven.Guilbeault@parl.gc.ca (constituency email).
SOME GOOD NEWS: CANADA CONTINUES NON-PARTICIPATION IN U.S. BMD
Today, I am here to announce that Canada is investing $4.9 billion over the next six years to modernize our continental defences, and, to protect Canadians from new and emerging threats.
This is the most significant upgrade to Canadian NORAD capabilities in almost four decades.
The focus of this initial phase, of what will ultimately be an investment of $40 billion over the next twenty years, is to establish
the backbone of a brand-new, Northern Approaches Surveillance system to enhance surveillance and early warning of threats to our continent.
It will include new radar systems and a network of sensors with “classified” capabilities. In the Minister’s words:
These … [new] systems will significantly improve our situational knowledge of what enters Canadian airspace from the north.
Minister Anand also announced a space-based surveillance project which will use satellites to perform surveillance of the Earth’s surface for intelligence and threat-tracking purposes.
In the government’s view:
Together, these investments will significantly improve our knowledge of the situation and allow Canada to be notified sooner and more accurately.
In a CBC article about the announcement, Murray Brewster notes that the Canadian spending
represents Canada’s share of the cost of overhauling the decades-old joint bi-national air defence command, originally designed to watch out for Soviet bombers….
The United States covers about 60 per cent of the bill for NORAD.
We are pleased to note that this announcement is completely in line with our 14 April 2022 call on the Government of Canada to focus its NORAD modernization efforts on appropriate upgrades to the North Warning [radar] system.
Prohibition on Canadian participation in US BMD continued
While Defence Minister Anand’s statement alluded to new defensive capabilities “to deter and, if necessary, to overcome” aerospace threats, the Government of Canada is wisely continuing its policy of eschewing participation in the American strategic ballistic missile defence boondoggle.
Asked whether Canada will end its prohibition on participating in the U.S. ballistic missile [defence] system (BMD), Anand said the government will maintain the current policy of non-involvement.
RI President Peggy Mason comments:
It is almost laughable to see the way the Canadian defence industry and its think tank acolytes constantly raise the prospect of Canadian BMD participation despite the complete absence of any evidence the government is considering a change of policy.
What is not laughable is the way veteran journalists like Murray Brewster fail to ask BMD proponents why a system that cannot even handle limited long-range missile threats from a rogue state like North Korea would be worthy of enormous expenditures by Canada.
The illusion of active defence against a hyped-up Russian threat to North America
Much of the CBC article focuses on the alleged new threat against North America from Russia:
Military experts have long warned that NORAD’s current surveillance system is not built to track cruise missiles — weapons fired from submarines or from outside of North American airspace. It’s also not set up to deal with hypersonic missiles, which travel at many times the speed of sound.
While these observations are absolutely true, what the article fails to point out, and what Minister Anand’s statement misrepresents, is the plain fact that there is no effective defence against intercontinental ballistic missiles (whether hypersonic or not) nor long-range cruise missiles.
In the words of Ernie Regehr in his excellent briefing Canada and the Limits to Missile Defence (thesimonsfoundation.ca, 26 July 2021):
Protecting North America from nuclear attack depends entirely on there not being a nuclear attack.
He concludes, and we concur:
The Canadian imperative is to focus its political/diplomatic energies on pursuing, in the company of like-minded states, the arms control/disarmament and prevention strategies on which Canadian and global security really do depend.
UPDATE ON FIRST MEETING OF TPNW STATES PARTIES (21-23 JUNE 2022)
This week saw the historic first conference of states parties to the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW 1MSP), which brought together over 60 governments that have ratified the treaty.
Also in attendance as observers were a number of NATO countries, including Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway and non-NATO US ally Australia.
It is useful to contrast Canada’s absence (without explanation) with a forthright statement from the German Foreign Minister explaining their position.
On their reasons for not signing the ban treaty, the communique states:
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons prohibits, among other things, the deployment, possession and transit, storage and stationing of nuclear weapons.
These extensive prohibitions create a conflict of interests between the TPNW and the responsibilities that the NATO allies have assumed. For this reason, neither Germany nor other NATO members have joined the TPNW.
Germany then explains its decision to nonetheless attend the meeting:
However, the Federal Government shares the concern of the States Parties to the TPNW about the lack of progress in the area of nuclear disarmament.
Like several other allies and close partners, the Federal Government has therefore decided to participate in the first Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW as an observer.
The straightforward explanation from the German government is, in our view, a stinging rebuke of the inexplicable decision by Canada to stay both mum and absent.
Also referenced in the German TPNW statement were remarks made by German Foreign Minister Baerbock on 18 March 2022 on the relevance of arms control to the development of a German National Security Strategy:
It is clear to us, and this will be embedded in our National Security Strategy, that disarmament and arms control remain an essential component of our security.
For an immediate post-conference summary of the outcomes from the first meeting of TPNW states parties, prepared by the European Leadership Network, click here. For access to all the conference documents and statements, click on the UN Office of Disarmament website here. For the International Campaign against Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) Overview of the Vienna Declaration and Action Plan, in PDF format, click here.
Among the many important and innovative agreements reached at the Meeting of States Parties, to assist in Treaty implementation, we highlight two in particular:
- the decision to establish an intersessional structure of informal working groups; and
- the decision to establish a Scientific Advisory Group.
Update on Australia and the TPNW
Readers may recall the discussion in our 27 May blog post of the pre-election pledge by the new Labour government in Australia to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
In perhaps an ominous sign, the new government was represented at the Vienna Meeting of States Parties by a government backbencher, even as a group of 55 former Australian ambassadors and high commissioners wrote an open letter to the prime minister urging the government to sign up to the treaty.
The letter includes this statement with respect to alliance commitments:
Membership of the TPNW is compatible with Australia’s alliance commitments and will make a positive contribution to the security objectives we share.
We have previously signed and ratified treaties – on landmines, cluster munitions and nuclear testing – to which the
United States is not a party.
However, it seems the devil really is in the detail.
Here is the actual wording of the official Labour party policy on the TPNW, with respect to which the then opposition Labour leader and now Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, played a lead role:
Labor in government will sign and ratify the ban treaty, contingent on ensuring an effective verification and enforcement architecture, and the ban treaty’s compatibility with the existing nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
The new government has now indicated it will need to be “satisfied on those questions” of verification and enforcement before it decides to sign and ratify the treaty.
The TPNW includes a provision for developing adequate verification mechanisms, which, in practical terms, would require the active participation of the nuclear weapons states as is also the case regarding enforcement.
RI President Peggy Mason comments:
Surely Australia is in a much stronger position to influence the development of effective verification and enforcement mechanisms as a full member of that treaty, not a mere outside observer, looking in.
We call upon the Government of Canada to adopt a constructive approach to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), including engagement with Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway on how to advance nuclear arms control and disarmament within appropriate NATO forums.
Former intelligence chief decries western strategy on Ukraine war and media complicity
Putin is to be condemned for launching this war– as is virtually any leader who launches any war. Putin can be termed a war criminal–in good company with George W. Bush who has killed vastly greater numbers than Putin.
Secondary condemnation belongs to the US (NATO) in deliberately provoking a war with Russia by implacably pushing its hostile military organization, despite Moscow’s repeated notifications about crossing red lines, right up to the gates of Russia.
This war did not have to be if Ukrainian neutrality, à la Finland and Austria, had been accepted. Instead Washington has called for clear Russian defeat.
Readers of last week’s post will immediately recognize that, if we are to follow the approach of the DND-funded University of Calgary study, these accusations constitute pro-Russian disinformation.
Also hearkening back to last week’s blog post, Fuller has this assessment of the media’s war coverage:
One of the most disturbing features of this US-Russian struggle in Ukraine has been the utter corruption of independent media. Indeed Washington has won the information and propaganda war hands down, orchestrating all Western media to sing from the same hymnbook in characterizing the Ukraine war.
Particularly sobering is Fuller’s view of the longer-term impact of this media “corruption”:
But the more dangerous implication is that as we head into future global crises, a genuine independent free press is largely disappearing, falling into the hands of corporate-dominated media close to policy circles, and now bolstered by electronic social media, all manipulating the narrative to its own ends.
Fuller’s analysis takes issue with virtually every aspect of the Western “narrative” on the Ukraine war, including who is “winning” (Russia), the relative damage to the Russian versus the European and global economies (much less for Russia), and the “so-called NATO-unity”, of which he writes:
Western Europe will increasingly rue the day that it blindly followed the American Pied Piper to war against Russia.
For the full article, including the longer-term global implications — which are decidedly unfavourable to Washington in Fuller’s view — see Some hard thoughts about post Ukraine (grahamefuller.com, 18 June 2022).
For more on the dangerously muddled and contradictory Western thinking on Ukraine, see Ukraine minister Kuleba accuses critics of being ‘enablers of Putin’ (Anatol Lieven, responsiblestatecraft.org, 20 June 2022).
New comprehensive statement on a just peace in Ukraine
Jeffrey Sachs and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network recently organized a conference on peacemaking in the Ukraine and other trouble spots. The two-day discussion produced a Statement entitled Reaching a Just and Lasting Peace in Ukraine.
The aim of peacemaking in Ukraine is not merely a negative peace – that is, a peace without justice – but a positive peace, based firmly on the four pillars of moral relations between states …. truth, justice, willing cooperation, and freedom.
The statement outlines in detail all necessary components of a durable peace plan, including:
- Neutrality of Ukraine, i.e., relinquishing the national ambition to join NATO while recognizing Ukraine’s freedom to enter into agreements with the European Union and others;
- Security guarantees for sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Ukraine provided by the P-5 members of the United Nations (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and United States) plus the European Union and Turkey, which might include military transparency and restrictions of military stationing and large-scale exercises in border areas under international observation connected to the lifting of economic sanctions;
- Russian de facto control of Crimea for a period of years, after which the parties would seek through diplomacy a permanent de jure settlement, which might include facilitated access for local communities to both Ukraine and Russia, liberal border crossing policies for persons and trade, stationing of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and financial compensations;
- Autonomy of the Lugansk and Donetsk regions within Ukraine, which might include economic, political, and cultural aspects, to be further detailed within a short period of time;
- Guaranteed commercial access of both Ukraine and Russia to the Black Sea Ports of both countries;
- The phased removal of Western sanctions on Russia in conjunction with the withdrawal of the Russian military according to the agreement;
- A Multilateral Fund for Reconstruction and Development of the war-torn regions of Ukraine — in which Russia also participates — and immediate access for humanitarian relief; and
- A UN Security Council Resolution to provide international monitoring mechanisms to support the peace agreement.
The statement also includes an addendum which responds to anticipated critiques of the peace plan regarding:
- Ukraine’s “right” to choose to join NATO
- Ukraine’s ability to recapture the Donbas
- The need to punish, not reward, Russia, and
- The dim prospects for a negotiated settlement.
On the claim that Russia and Ukraine are far from a negotiated settlement, the addendum makes a convincing case, in our view, of the “painful stalemate” in which both Russia and Ukraine now find themselves, and the consequent likelihood that neither side will be able to improve on its current situation.
The statement concludes:
The greatest obstacle to a negotiated outcome is perhaps the fear of negotiations itself. Politicians fear that they will be attacked as appeasers and even defeatists if they call for compromise at the negotiating table rather than outright military victory.
This is why peacemakers are so vital at this stage.
For the full statement and the list of signatories, click here.
The statement is now open for further signatures by requesting to sign through an online form available here.
We reiterate our call on the Government of Canada to work bilaterally with the USA and through appropriate NATO channels in support of urgently needed peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.
UPCOMING: ARCTIC SECURITY COOPERATION
Next Friday we will examine a timely new briefing paper by Ernie Regehr on the steps needed to resume cooperation on the full range of issues on which Arctic well-being depends.
Photo credit: Wikimedia (shredded solid waste)
Ceasefire.ca is a public outreach project of the Rideau Institute linking Canadians working together for peace.