Gas and Garbage

Commentary, Environment, Gerry Bowler

Canadians have fought a lot of tough characters over the years. Sudanese warriors of the Mahdi, Boer guerillas, armies of the German, Austrian, and Japanese empires, Nazi SS panzer divisions, Red Chinese, North Koreans, Serbs, Croats, and Taleban all came to rue the day they messed with the boys under the maple leaf banner. Heck, our navy even attacked Spanish fishing boats in the great Turbot War of 1995.

But never before have we faced an enemy quite like President Duterte of the Philippines.

Some years ago a Canadian company, now seemingly defunct, shipped a load of garbage to the Philippines for disposal, claiming it was recyclable plastic. Filipino authorities discovered that the trash was, in fact, rather nasty waste including adult diapers (used) and, not unreasonably, demanded that Canadians come and pick up the stuff and take it home.

There are international conventions that were supposed to prevent this sort of thing, but it appears that official palms were greased with silver and the 103 shipping containers of ordure had been admitted.

Our countrymen dallied on this issue until the Filipinos became upset, started marching in the street, and saying mean things about Canada. Leading the way in the spewing of heated language was their President, a rather interesting politician whose character makes Donald Trump look like an innocent lamb.

Mr. Duterte is known for having shot a fellow student, lamenting that he had not been first to rape an Australian woman who had been taken hostage and murdered in his country, and has been supporting unofficial death squads in killing drug addicts and street kids. He has recalled his ambassador from Ottawa and threatened to ship the rubbish back to North America.

“I will advise Canada that your garbage is on the way,” said the diminutive demagogue. “Prepare a grand reception. Eat it if you want to.” When Ottawa didn’t move fast enough, the tiny terror escalated things, saying: “Let’s fight Canada. We’ll declare war against them, we can handle them anyway.”

And perhaps they can. The Philippines military is over twice the size of our own, though their air force seems to have the same trouble picking new jet fighters as the RCAF has.

But breathe easily Canada. Duterte will not unleash his legions because the Canadian government has agreed that, as with Omar Khadr, we will bring our unwanted material back home. The 1,500 tonnes of crud will be burnt in Vancouver and provide energy for many of the area’s latte bars and marijuana dispensaries.

Barring the trifling emission of some nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide as well as trace amounts of toxic pollutants, such as mercury compounds and dioxins, this seems like a win/win situation. We clean up our own garbage and Vancouver is spared the rape and pillaging that would have inevitably accompanied a Filipino military invasion.

But maybe we had better procure those jets, just in case there is a next time.