rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Harper government knows 'earth's future' depends on 'combating desertification,' doesn't seem to care

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Compounding an already controversial decision to pull out of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the Harper government's previous statements are raising even more questions.

Contradicting the government's current claims the treaty showed "few results", in June 2007 federal cabinet minister Josée Verner said "earth's future" depends on "combating desertification," calling it "one of the key challenges to environmental sustainability".

The comments were made in a statement on the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, which marks the anniversary of the adoption of the UNCCD. Vernier was Minister of International Cooperation at the time. Vernier also said in the statement, "This World Day allows us to highlight the importance of dryland-related issues and the fact that desertification is a global concern. This day also reminds us we can effectively combat desertification through greater community involvement and cooperation at all levels."

The CIDA website still highlights the importance of the UNCCD and calls land degradation "an environmental sustainability priority" for the federal government.

"This confirms Harper knows how important this treaty is, but is abandoning it anyway," said Barlow. "Is Harper pulling out of this treaty in the hope that doing so removes a key international legal instrument at a time when First Nations are increasingly challenging the legal legitimacy of his government's legislation, especially in relation to tar sands, mining, and omnibus legislation?"

The UNCCD is the only legally binding treaty in the world on desertification. Canada is now the only country not a party to it.

"Given that the UNCCD has been run out of CIDA, which the 2013 federal budget folded into DFAIT to align it with corporate interests, we need to ask who benefits from this decision," said Barlow. "This government is a total enabler of Canadian mining companies destroying local water systems in Latin America and other places. This is a huge story in its larger context."

"Drought and desertification are growing in over 100 countries. We are relentlessly damming and diverting water for the global food trade and over pumping groundwater at a rate that doubles every 20 years," said Barlow. "Water sources are drying up in many parts of the world. This is simply the worst signal Canada could make to the global community and it comes at the worst time. It is shameful the Harper government would pull out of this crucial negotiation."

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.