Ac­tivists tar­get Canada

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FRONT PAGE - STU­ART THOM­SON

En­vi­ron­men­tal groups in­censed about Cana­dian trash dumped in the Philip­pines four years ago want Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau to “take it back with him” after he at­tends this week’s APEC sum­mit.

Cana­di­ans may not be aware their garbage is such a hot-but­ton is­sue in the Philip­pines, but it was im­por­tant enough to have been the fo­cus of a cam­paign prom­ise by Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte in 2016.

Now en­vi­ron­men­tal groups want him to make good on that prom­ise to take out the Cana­dian trash.

The con­tain­ers from the Van­cou­ver area were de­liv­ered in 2013 and la­belled “scrap plas­tic ma­te­ri­als for re­cy­cling,” but Filipino cus­toms of­fi­cials found rot­ting house­hold waste in them. En­vi­ron­men­tal groups have said the con­tain­ers were filled with adult di­a­pers, hy­po­der­mic nee­dles and all man­ner of haz­ardous ma­te­ri­als.

The 103 con­tain­ers of garbage are re­ported to to­tal about 2,500 tonnes and an en­vi­ron­men­tal group called BAN Tox­ics has said that 26 of those con­tain­ers were dis­posed of in a pri­vate dump in 2015.

“Cana­dian trash has been rot­ting in the Port of Manila for sev­eral years. Trudeau should take it back with him home to Canada,” said Anna Ka­punan, of BAN Tox­ics, in a press re­lease on Thurs­day.

There is no sched­uled meet­ing be­tween Trudeau and Duterte at the Asia Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion sum­mit, which both men are at­tend­ing Fri­day and Satur­day, but lead­ers


of­ten pull each other aside for in­for­mal chats at these kind of sum­mits.

Trash is an on­go­ing prob­lem in the Philip­pines, with Duterte com­plain­ing last year that may­ors in the coun­try weren’t do­ing enough to clean up trash in their cities.

In 1999, Philip­pine of­fi­cials in­ter­cepted 120 Ja­panese ship­ping con­tain­ers found to be packed with waste.

The Ja­panese gov­ern­ment char­tered a ship to repa­tri­ate the garbage and vowed to pros­e­cute the com­pany re­spon­si­ble.

The is­sue also hits a raw nerve post-colo­nial nerve, with en­vi­ron­men­tal groups and Filipino ac­tivists fram­ing the is­sue as rich coun­tries like Canada and Ja­pan us­ing poor coun­tries as a dump­ing ground.

Richard Gu­tier­rez, the CEO of BAN Tox­ics, has said that richer coun­tries take ad­van­tage of the lack of tech­ni­cal equip­ment in poor coun­tries to sci­en­tif­i­cally de­ter­mine if haz­ardous waste is present.

Duterte has never shied away from con­fronta­tion on the world stage. In 2016, he called then-U.S. pres­i­dent Barack Obama a “son of a whore” and told him to “go to hell” a month later, in per­haps a fore­shad­ow­ing of the kind of trash talk Trudeau could be in for.


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