Trashy move
LOOKING ASKANCE - Joseph Gonzales (The Freeman) - May 19, 2019 - 12:00am

It seems that if there's one thing our fractious politicians are united on, it's white trash.

Not just any white trash, but the ones from Canada. Not the kind that enters legally via airports, but the ones smuggled illegally via container barges, with faked papers and dubious credentials.

Of course, I'm referring to the 103 containers of garbage, weighing 2,000 tons, that were shipped to these islands by Canada over a couple of years (2013-2014). We don't want Canada's garbage, but Canada doesn't want to take it back. What to do?

Both administration and opposition politicians are unanimous in taking Canada to task for failing to take back its refuse. Well, thanks Canada, for achieving with your garbage what I would have thought was an impossible task; getting hotheaded and clearly ideologically-divided enemies to form a common front.

Embattled Senator Panfilo Lacson is joining the ranks of Senator Loren Legarda and administration spokesman Sal Panelo and our Foreign Affairs secretary in condemning the dumping, and even supporting the recall of our ambassador and various consuls assigned to Canada. (Of course, we may need our diplomats' presence in Canada to oversee our affairs more than Canada needs those warm bodies to be physically there, but that's another discussion.)

It's been six years. How long does it take to admit fault and then take the consequences for it? Quick answer: Longer than six years, apparently.

Browsing through Canada's official responses, one can't seem to figure out the reason for the delay. Yes, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his administration is "working closely" with us "to get to a resolution", and Brittany Fletcher, Canadian spokeswoman, says Canada will "continue to engage closely" so that we get "a swift resolution". But six years? Is that how "swift" is defined?

What’s really going on behind the scenes? Why the maddening delay? Is Canada really deploying the right amount of attention and resources so the internal approvals are obtained? (Like, the final burial ground of those 2,000 tons of garbage should have been identified, and proper interment ceremonies, a.k.a. the neutralization of possible toxins and contaminants, should have been prepared by now).

Or is Canada employing delaying tactics people in the corporate world often do, where they say "yes" to your face then do nothing about it until the next time you meet them, and then say "yes" again, and apologize, and go right back to doing nothing again, ad infinitum?

Why would Canada do that? Do we think Canada is just waiting for a more malleable president to be elected? That means delaying for three more years, hemming and hawing until the next elections, and waiting to see who will get elected. Will the successor be friendlier to Canada, or lazier to deal with the problem, or less passionate about the environment? All of those would benefit a Canada that isn't serious about taking responsibility for its own injury to the world's environment.

As we oft say: If there's a will, there's a way. Here, we see no will being exerted. Just plenty of politesse and diplomatic maneuvers. Official statements of "working closely" and other blah-blah nothings. The Canadian Embassy refusing to respond to press queries while the ambassador is chit-chatting at cocktail parties while looking at Philippine auction memorabilia. No wonder the powers-that-be in Malacañang are pissed.

Will the recall of our embassy officials work? Will that force Canada's hand? Will the international attention we've deployed towards Canada's negligence successfully pressure the supposedly environmentally-friendly government of Trudeau to "swiftly" press the button? Will Canada rise above its empty words and prove it is deserving of a leadership role in a world stage facing an environmentally-challenged future?

Your move, Canada. Trashy or classy?

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