Meeting With UN Special Rapporteur

May 16, 2012
(OTTAWA, ON) - The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, today issued the following statement:

Today I met with Olivier De Schutter, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the right to food.

As an aboriginal person from the North, I was insulted that Mr. Schutter chose to “study” us, but chose not to “visit” us. 

In fact, Mr. De Schutter confirmed to me that he did not visit a single Arctic community in Canada during nearly two weeks of travel within Canada.

I asked him what stance he would take in his report on uninformed, international attacks on the seal and polar bear hunt that make it harder for aboriginal hunters to earn a livelihood.  I told him that I would be reviewing his final report closely, to see if he makes any recommendations to activist groups to stop interfering in the hunting and gathering of traditional foods.

I was concerned that he had not been fully informed of the problems with the discontinued Food Mail program that subsidized the shipping of tires and skidoo parts, as opposed to Nutrition North, which improves access to nutritious and perishable foods.

He made several suggestions that would require the federal government to interfere in the jurisdiction of other levels of government. It was clear that he had little understanding of Canada’s division of powers between the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government despite his extensive briefings with technical officials from the Government of Canada.

Our government is surprised that this organization is focused on what appears to be a political agenda rather than on addressing food shortages in the developing world.

By the United Nations’ own measure, Canada ranks sixth best of all the world's countries on their human development index.

Canadians donate significant funding to address poverty and hunger around the world, and we find it unacceptable that these resources are not being used to address food shortages in the countries that need the most help.