Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Ag Minister Ritz a No-Show at Rome Food Summit

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, the world's got a food crisis goin' on. Right now, a human being starves to death every 3 or 4 seconds. The UN's worried and they got a bigass conference goin' on over in Rome. There's a buncha heads of state and agriculture ministers and officials from most countries. Canada is represented by only one guy and he was already there in Rome. We sent no one to a conference that aims to relieve the suffering of millions.

Eric Reguly wrote about it in the Globe.
There are dozens of heads of state and government at the United Nations Food Summit in Rome, from Japan's Yasuo Fukuda to Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. There are dozens of agriculture ministers and aid agency leaders.

You would think Canada would be well represented at the most important food conference since the 1970s. Canada is one of the world's biggest producers and exporters of grains. It is routinely touted as one of the few countries with enough spare growing capacity to prevent millions from going hungry.

Yet prime minister Stephen Harper is not here. The bigger surprise: Agriculture minister Gerry Ritz is also absent.

When the food summit was being mapped out a few months ago, Canadian diplomats in Europe and a good number of officials at the three UN food agencies in Rome assumed Canada would be represented by no less than Mr. Ritz. But the man never made a commitment and he bowed out last week. His absence leaves Alex Himelfarb, Canada's ambassador to Italy, as the senior Canadian at the event.

On behalf of Canada, Mr. Himelfarb will be making a statement Wednesday or Thursday on the food crisis, precise topic unknown. Poor guy. He will no doubt get peppered with questions about the agriculture minister's no show.

There was no explanation for Mr. Ritz's no-show status. Apparently, personal reasons, like an emergency root canal, had nothing to do with it. You could assume the prime minister's office made the decision for him. But why?

Egyptian leader Mubarek is up on his hindlegs blamin' it all on biofuel. Canada's a big backer of dumbass agrofuel. Why ain't Ritz there tryin' to defend the indefensible?

We may not have a food crisis here in Canada but we are members of the international community. We should be better represented at such an important meeting. After all, King Steve found time last week to duck pesky reporters by travelin' around Yerp for no other reason than to try to convince them we're serious about GHG's when we ain't. We got a lot more credibility when it comes to producing food and providing aid.

We could be stepping up to the plate and demonstrating compassion, humanity and leadership. But we ain't.



Real_PHV_Mentarch said...

"Canada's back!" all right.

Same old Harper government incompetence ...

Red Tory said...

Another disappointing performance (well, a no-show really) on the world stage.

¢rÄbG®äŠŠ said...

I'm often reluctant to show up at a party where I know I'll be surrounded by people who think I'm an idiot. Happens all the time... but I digress.

Anyway, maybe it's kind of like that.

JimBobby said...

Whooee! Thankee fer chimin' in. It's a bit weird. Canada has zero cred on climate change and yet Harper visits Yerpean capitals and tries to boost our sorryass reputation.

Canada has some decent credibility on food issues. We are a major producer and exporter and we rank quite well in the food aid department. We've "punched above our weight" in the food arena. We could be providing some respected input and leadership but, strangely, we ain't even really there.

Among the causes of the food crisis are high oil prices (usually ranked as the #1 cause) and biofuel development (a lesser but still significant cause). Canada is doing quite well due to high oil prices and the federal government has dug in its heels wrt biofuel subsidies and endorsement. Maybe that's the reason we ain't there.

Or maybe it's just that Harper thinks hunger is a left wing issue.