Canada Will Take Back Trash That's Been Rotting for Years

Rodrigo Duterte threatened to dump it in Canadian waters
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2019 7:59 AM CDT
After Duterte Threat, Canada Agrees to Take Back Trash
Environmentalists stage a mock die-in protest outside the Canadian Embassy to demand the Canadian government to speed up the removal of several containers of garbage that were shipped to the country Tuesday, May 21, 2019, in Manila, Philippines.   (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

After a dispute that involved a lot of trash talking from President Rodrigo Duterte, Canada has finally agreed to take back scores of containers of trash sent to the country more than five years ago. The 100-plus containers shipped to the Philippines in 2013 and 2014 by a private company based in Canada were labeled as containing "high quality" recyclable materials but in fact contained ordinary household trash. After a threat from Duterte to hire a shipping company to dump the trash in Canadian waters, Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said the government had awarded a company a contract to repatriate the tons of garbage, the New York Times reports. Duterte—who threatened war over the issue last month—pulled his country's ambassador from Canada last week.

The thousands of tons of trash rotted in a port for years while the dispute dragged on. "The Filipino people are gravely insulted about Canada’s treating this country as a dump site," a Duterte spokesman said before Wednesday's announcement. McKenna says Canada, which is covering all the costs of bringing the trash back, is changing its laws to make sure there is no repeat of the situation. Analysts say the move is a big victory for Duterte, though Jay Batongbacal, a maritime law expert at University of the Philippines, accuses him of "grandstanding" in disputes with the West while backing down from territorial disputes with China. "The presidential policy is to curry favor with China regardless of state of relations with others," he tells the Washington Post. (More Philippines stories.)

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