‘Canada is in the wrong’: Environmentalists urge the country to clear out its trash from the Philippines

Canada needs to remove its garbage from the Philippines immediately — and pay restitution, an environmental studies professor says.

“I would say that at this point the Canadian government should be financially compensating the Philippines government,” Myra Hird, who teaches at Queen’s University and directs a waste flow research program, told The Current’s Anna Maria Tremonti.

She says the Philippines have been “storing our waste for us” for years, and deserve compensation.

More than 100 containers, labelled as recycling, were shipped to Manila by a Canadian company in 2013 and 2014. Customs inspectors later discovered the containers actually contained garbage, including soiled diapers, food waste and electronic waste.

In a video broadcast on Tuesday, the Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte warned Canada to take back the containers within a week, or he’d ship them back himself.

At an event in Montreal Wednesday, Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna said Canada is “working very hard to address the issue of the garbage. I think that there is a solution that can be found in the coming weeks.”

Philippines Ambassador for Canada Petronila Garcia did not respond to The Current’s request for comment.

Some environmental lawyers have argued the shipment of trash has violated Canada’s international obligations.

Kathleen Ruff, founder of the human rights and environment public advocacy campaign RightOnCanada, says Canada is in violation of the Basel Convention.

“[It] states that the government of a country has the obligation of bringing back waste … when the waste was illegally shipped. There’s no question about it that the shipment of this waste was illegal.”

Ruff cited the convention’s definition of illegal waste, which she said includes waste that is “fraudulently or incorrectly represented, as these wastes were.”

“Canada is in the wrong.”

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