U.N. Investigates Canada’s Right to Food Record

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food has arrived in Canada to investigate the country’s food supply system and policies that affect the right to food. Canada is the first OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) country Oliver DeSchutter has chosen to visit.

Although his visits to China, Mexico, South Africa, Syria and Guatemala caused barely a ripple, the Canadian government appears to be feeling sensitive about this one. Most visitors of De Schutter’s stature could expect to meet with ministers, but a report by Sarah Schmidt for Postmedia News indicated departmental officials would be meeting with the special envoy.

[Olivier De Schutter] had requested meetings with the ministers of health, aboriginal affairs, agriculture, fisheries, foreign affairs or international cooperation, as well as departmental experts. The UN’s right-to-food expert, who usually meets with government ministers and technical experts within the civil service during his missions, was informed departmental officials would be available, but no meetings with ministers were arranged, his office said Friday.

Reactions to the visit were swift. Liberal MP Bob Rae (Toronto Centre) placed the blame for Canada’s being in the spotlight squarely on the federal government. In a statement issued May 7th, he said:

The actions of this Conservative government have exacerbated food insecurity across this country. …The fact that Canada is now the first developed country to be investigated by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food is nothing short of a failure for the Harper Conservatives.

Diana Bronson, Executive Director of Food Secure Canada, commented:

Over two million Canadians do not have enough food to eat, and many people who live on government assistance cannot afford to eat a healthy diet. Farmers and fishers are going out of business, and food insecurity rates in many Northern communities are outrageously high. Recent government cutbacks have hit some of the most vulnerable people the hardest. Canada is failing to meet its legal obligations to fulfill the right to food.

Hillel Neuer, writing for the National Post, criticized De Schutter’s decision to visit Canada when so many other countries of the world are experiencing profound hunger.

De Schutter’s consistent argument is that if there is hunger, Western countries are to blame. His attacks on international trade are so ideologically extreme that even Pascal Lamy, head of the World Trade Organization and a member of the French Socialist party, criticized De Schutter’s approach for threatening to drive food prices higher and “exacerbating the negative impacts on poor consumers.”

Countries at the top of the economic heap are generally swift to point fingers at the failings of Greece, France, Syria, Somalia or any other country experiencing political, economic or humanitarian crises. We are less comfortable when the fingers point our way.

A country with Canada’s resources and wealth could solve the problems De Schutter is here to investigate, but we lack the political will. Expect to see some squirming and denial when the final report is issued. A more helpful, but less likely, response from the Conservatives would be actions to end hunger and poverty.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock


Bartley Deason
Bartley Deason5 years ago

To Gary A.
Cannot send a star right now, but you truly deserve one. As usual, you are spot on. I have read so many of your posts over the past few months and your knowledge and compassion inspire me. Thanks for the opprotunity to read your posted thoughts.
"Whats so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding?"

clara H.
Clara Hamill5 years ago

Poorer countries should be taught how to sustain themselves and that it's not a good idea to have so many children.

Ernest R.
Ernest R5 years ago

@ Joseph B…”The problem isn't that there are too many humans or that there isn't enough food. “ Who gave you that priceless bit of information.? Someone else is now telling you that THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE. No . there isn’t enough food. Countries that produced rice for export, like Thailand, the Philippines, China, now have to import rice. The Arab Spring rebellions were in large part because food prices had become too expensive to make food affordable. Former Canadian and US stockpiles of grain have dwindled to pitiful remnants. Yes. there is waste. Some of that is due to spoilage of food that was not sold. I have heard for decades that “ There is plenty of food .The problem is the distribution.“ If the distribution problem couldn’t be fixed in decades, maybe it can’t be fixed. Wake up to the reality that A FINITE PLANET CANNOT SUSTAIN AN INFINITE NUMBER OF PEOPLE, especially when resources are wiped out faster than they can regenerate.

Abbe A.
Azaima A5 years ago


kellee h.
kellee H5 years ago

No being on this planet should be hungry!! There is plenty of resources for all. However,there are some people who take more than their share and here we are.......fighting day after day,petition after petition and it stays the same. We are not effecting the culprits of this dilemia in the least.....their as fat as ever............and happy..........Disgrace.

Joseph Belisle
Joseph Belisle5 years ago

Yup, the conservative movement is Canada is producing results. Increasing hunger as they increase the amount of wealth amoung the 1%.

Yeah, the UN would love to come to the US to do the same thing but they are afraid. We in the US would consider it an act of terrorism and try to invade the UN. If we could only find them on the map. And if they had oil.

I've read that, probably here, that the world produces more than enough food right now to feed every person on the earth beyond their need. The problem isn't that there are too many humans or that there isn't enough food. The problem are our economic systems. Capitalism and the free market system is not designed to serve humanity. It is not designed to feed everyone. They are selfish systems that are designed to over satiate a small minority and keep enough the majority from starvation so that they can keep giving away the abundance of their production to the wealthy elite.
Until we give up these suicidal/homodical systems we will always have this problem. It is sad that Canada has moved closer to the US system of barbarism but it's encouraging that the UN finds the guts to question them. Maybe Canada needs to invade some countries for resources and bomb civilians to give the UN pause when they think of trying to question their morality.

jill bukovnik
jill Campbell5 years ago

Of course it's possible to wipe out hunger in wealthy nations. There should be no hunger anywhere in North America. And to our shame in Canada... there is. We need to be held accountable for this because it's outrageous that anyone should go hungry in a country who can use billions of dollars to develop ski hills, rebuild buildings that should be torn down, give grants to people that abuse them... it goes on and on and on.

Shame on us!!!

Luvenia V.
Luvenia V5 years ago

It breaks my heart to see the word “Government” reduced the same level as crooks. It breaks my heart because we have forgotten what Government is supposed to do, Especially here in America where WE are the government.

I remember reading about the “FREE Trade Agreements” and how their ultimate goal is to do away with every kind of government and have corporate rule. People need to think long and hard because that is what WE have now in most industrialized countries. Monsanto will control the seeds (plant food) and the Factory Farms will control the livestock. Adding to the problems will be the privatized water and labor. If we keep this up, CUBA will start to look like the promise land.

Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton5 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Tom Sullivan
Tom C Sullivan5 years ago

This is so sad. But it is going on all over the world, it seems the goverments could care less about the poor & average people, all they care about is the wealthy, the whole world id screwed up.