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.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?
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?
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.