Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food speaks to the media at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa, May 16, 2012 after his tour of Canada
Credits: Andre Forget / QMI AGENCY
For all those Canadians who don't think the United Nations has outlived its usefulness, I present Olivier De Schutter.
De Schutter is the UN special rapporteur on the right to food.
That's a fancy title for a man who promotes a right that simply does not exist.
Despite this, De Schutter came to Canada, visited several cities and a reserve in Manitoba and then issued a report after just 11 days in the country to say we are not doing enough to ensure the non-existent right to food.
We can all agree that food is a necessity, that everyone needs food.
But in a political setting, when we say food is a right, then we are saying government must provide food or the money to buy it.
We are talking about a social program as a right.
In Canada, and the British political tradition we come from, we have mainly focused on what are called negative liberties, things government cannot do to you.
The government cannot imprison you without charge, the government cannot search you or your home without a warrant, we are free to practice our religion and express our beliefs without state interference.
But we don't believe in a right to food.
This right to food isn't in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and is not in the 1960 Bill of Rights.
The only place it exists is in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights put out by the UN in 1948 and never enforced.
The first half of the Universal Declaration reads like the type of rights document most of us would be familiar with.
Article 3 sounds very much like our Charter: "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person."
But the back half of this document is not a set of rights but rather a laundry list of demands and calls for social programs.
On top of the right to food there is also the right to a paid vacation and the right to enjoy the arts.
What De Schutter is trying to do is use the idea of a right to food to push for specific political programs that Canadian voters may not want.
He says taxes are too low in this country and should be raised, especially on the rich.
He says we need a higher minimum wage, higher welfare rates, a tax on sugar and fatty foods.
De Schutter also wants a reversal of trade liberalization policies such as free trade. He wants large farms reverted to small farms and less exports for Canada's agricultural industry. In short, De Schutter wants Canada to adopt the kind of European socialism that has led to the crash on the continent and unemployment rates as high as 21%.
You get the feeling after listening to this guy and questioning him, as I did, that he came and listened to like-minded activists but had his mind made up before he ever set foot on Canadian soil.
The Harper government rightly told De Schutter his report wasn't welcome and he should spend his time worrying about places where people are starving, not obese.
He will file his report to the UN Human Rights Council masters and then countries like Cuba, China and Saudi Arabia - all members of that council - will question and condemn Canada.
If this doesn't give you enough reason to see that the UN has outlived its usefulness, then it's time to take off the rose-coloured glasses.