Well, at least they’re on the same wavelength as South Park.
No, seriously. The “Special Rapporteur on the right to food” for the UN Human Rights Council (We’ve met them before) has decried the lack of “a national right to food strategy” in one of the wealthiest, best-run democracies on the planet:
“Canada has long been seen as a land of plenty. Yet today one in ten families with a child under six is unable to meet their daily food needs. These rates of food insecurity are unacceptable, and it is time for Canada to adopt a national right to food strategy,” said Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, on the last day of his official visit to the country.*
“What I’ve seen in Canada is a system that presents barriers for the poor to access nutritious diets and that tolerates increased inequalities between rich and poor, and Aboriginal non-Aboriginal peoples. Canada is much admired for its achievements in the area of human rights, which it has championed for many years. But hunger and access to adequate diets, too, are human rights issues — and here much remains to be done.”
The UN human rights expert was nonetheless confident that the country could move towards establishing food systems that deliver adequate and affordable diets for all, and called upon the Canadian government to convene a national food conference that would clarify the allocation of responsibilities between the federal level, the provinces and territories. “All political parties have expressed support for the establishment of a national food policy, and the engagement of citizens through food policy councils across the country is truly impressive. But in order to address them, Canada must first recognize the reality of the challenges it faces,” he stated.
And, at the same time that Canada is heartlessly letting people starve, De Schutter covers all his bases by warning an even great number are obese:
Second, more than one in four Canadian adults are obese, and almost two thirds of the population is overweight or obese, costing at least 5 billion Canadian dollars annually in health care costs and in lost productivity. “This is also a result of poverty: adequate diets have become too expensive for poor Canadians, and it is precisely these people who have to pay the most when they live in food deserts and depend on convenience stores that charge higher prices than the main retailers.”
Over-fed, under-fed, wrongly-fed… Canada just can’t win.
Of course, the UN bureaucrat’s recommendation is… Wait for it… more government intervention in the economy, including (he hints) price regulations and income guarantees for farmers. And, of course, it’s a shame that school meal policies are left to the locals. National planning is the answer.
And it’s not just for access to food. When complaining about the lack of access to nutritious diets, De Schutter subtly suggests a need to control what Canadians eat, too. This guy would be right at home in a North Carolina preschool. Or maybe De Schutter, Mayor Bloomberg, and Michelle Obama could get their own FoodTV show, “Nanny cooks — and you’ll like it!”
Gosh, I don’t know. Call me crazy, but it seems to me that the democratically elected governments of Canada –federal, provincial, and local– can decide for themselves what kind of food policy Canadians need. If Canadians need any at all, since they’re perfectly capable of deciding for themselves what they want to eat and whether they have access to what they need.
Though I’ll grant it’s a bit much to expect a transnationalist statist bureaucrat from the mack-daddy of transnationalist statist organizations to grasp that simple concept, since it means he’d have fewer opportunities for globe-hopping, expenses-paid trips to hector other people.
Naturally, the Canadian government wasn’t amused, as Reuters reports:
After De Schutter complained in a newspaper interview that no federal cabinet minister had agreed to meet him, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, from Canada’s aboriginal Inuit population, met him on Wednesday.
But the meeting did not seem to go well.
“I met with the individual this morning and I found him to be an ill-informed, patronizing academic studying, once again, the aboriginal people, Inuit and Canada’s Arctic from afar,” Aglukkaq told Parliament.
Looks like DeSchutter’s report will get the reception it deserves — a trip to the ash can.
via Nile Gardiner, to whom I give the last observation:
One would think the United Nations would be concerned with real deprivation and hunger, in places like North Korea and Zimbabwe, instead of focusing on one of the richest countries in the world, with among the highest overall living standards on the planet. Even the UN’s own Human Development Index (HDI) ranks Canada sixth in the world out of 187 countries. But then again, De Schutter represents the discredited UN Human Rights Council, which includes in its membership some of the world’s worst human rights abusers, such as China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia. Its bar has been set so low that even Libya under Colonel Gaddafi was elected to membership. The HRC is a farce, and their latest report on Canada is further proof of it.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)