Monday, September 29, 2008


Just as we learned in reading Orwell’s Animal Farm that some animals were more equal than others, Canadians learned in April of 2008 from inveterate hypocrites like the United Church of Canada that some Human Rights were so important in the Philippines that others were worth entirely ignoring.

Three members of the Philippino House of Representatives representing a human rights advocacy group called “Stop the Killing” testified before a Canadian House of Commons Subcommittee to argue that Canadian aid to their country should be contingent on their government ending the executions by military and paramilitary units in the countryside.

Now, it must be said that this delegation is to be congratulated for telling Canadians that foreign aid should be conditional on something. Even bank managers don’t give you money without conditions. And as bad as 900 “extra judicial killings” and “180 enforced disappearances” is in one year, losing 1080 bodies does not stack up to the misery of a country where 40% of women who want to use contraceptives do not have access to them and therefore have to resort to abortion due to lack of family planning information and maternal health care.

In the eyes of the Catholic Church, you see, contraceptives like the pill, induce “abortion”, and that is a deadly “sin”. But the real deadly sin is women having three children each in a nation with a food shortage, or “people longage”. Where the annual growth rate is 2.34 per cent and the national population is projected to reach 90 million by year’s end. While Vietnam and Indonesia improved their human development index rating (HDI), the Philippines saw theirs fall seven places. A more telling yardstick is a comparison between Thailand and the Philippines. According to Ernesto Pernia of the University of the Phillippines, “In 1975 both countries had similar population sizes of 41 to 42 million. Then Bangkok launched a major family planning effort. Now Thailand has a population of around 64 million and is the world's top exporter of rice. Meanwhile, the Philippines with a population of 90 million is the world's top importer of the grain. Thailand had a gross annual income per capita of $7,880 in 2007, while in the Philippines it was $3,730.”

Economists at the same university reported that among the poorest 10% of women of reproductive age, 44% of pregancies are unwanted, and 57% of Phillippinno poor had 9 or more children. Not surprisingly, 3.1 pregnancies are unplanned. Why? Poor women cannot afford contraceptives, which amount to half the daily salary of almost half the population, who also lack accurate information and access. Needless to say, the Catholic authorities are not giving it them. And here’s a trick question, do you think CIDA would think to plant any birth control pills or condoms in that 20 plus million annual aid package to the Philippines? I didn’t think so either. Same thing in Haiti and everywhere else where we “can’t do anything about over-population”.

But do Canadian politicians care about those kind of human rights? The rights that are lost when too many mouths consume fewer and fewer resources? No. The NDP voice on the Subcommittee, Wayne Marston, typically made noise about the Canadian mining firms using paramilitary forces for their security and the Arroyo regime using Canada to train officers for their repressive deeds. The Canadian left will never look for Malthusian roots for the political repression and economic inequities that afflict developing countries. It is all a matter of a just redistribution of abundant wealth, you see.

Meanwhile, Canadian taxpayers just robotically dole out the standard $20 million plus to Manila as their annual breeding incentive. Modeled on the one at home, where Canadian parents receive “baby bonuses” or what is officially called “Child Care Benefits”. I prefer to call them a reward for inflicting more ecological footprints on us.

It all flows from that most Canadian of Human Rights, the human right to procreate as many times as I deem fit, have you pay for it, and me take up the space and resources that is due my neighbour. Upon that attitude is built our foreign aid policy.

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