UN official offers food tips to Canada

Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food.



The United Nations gave Canada a finger-rapping report card on access to food in this country that says aboriginals are especially vulnerable to "food insecurity."

Olivier De Schutter, UN special rapporteur on the right to food, toured Canada during an 11-day fact-finding mission last spring.

"The special rapporteur was disconcerted by the deep and severe food insecurity faced by aboriginal peoples living both on- and off-reserve in remote and urban areas," the report says. "The inadequacy of social protection schemes to meet the basic needs of households has precipitated the proliferation of private and charity-based food aid."

The 21-page report includes 61 footnotes and refers to the UN's own rules on matters such as advising Canada to set a living wage for those on social assistance and enshrine the right to food in the Constitution.

The report says close to a million people use a food bank in Canada every month, and about half of those folks are on social assistance.

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq met De Schutter during his visit and later told reporters the UN bureaucrat didn't have a clue about the hunting and food-sourcing practices of aboriginals up north.

The Conservative government didn't appreciate the report.

"Go and talk to countries who are having problems producing food. Zimbabwe up until 15 years ago could feed themselves plus they exported 80% of what they grew, today they can't even feed themselves. Go and advise them," MP and farmer Larry Miller said. "Until the UN cleans up its act, I don't want to be sitting at the same table as thieves, thugs and terrorists."

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