Canada announces contract to ship trash back from Philippines hours after Duterte threatens to dump it
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says the Canadian trash that has been rotting in the Philippines for nearly six years will be back on Canadian soil before the end of June.
McKenna says the government has awarded a contract to a shipping company, Bollore Logistics Canada, that will return 69 containers filled with household waste and electronic garbage.
She says the waste must be “safely treated” to meet Canadian safety and health requirements before it can be shipped back.
The trash was sent to the Philippines by a private Canadian company in 2013 and 2014 and was improperly labelled as plastics for recycling.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not offer any further details on the deal when asked during a press conference in Vancouver on Wednesday.
But he said the government continues to engage with the Philippine government to look for a solution.
“We are looking forward to having a solution to present to Canadians shortly and to our Filipino partners,” he said. “This is a situation that is unacceptable and has gone on for far too long.”
WATCH: Philippines sends back tons of illegal garbage
The discovery of the garbage led to a diplomatic disturbance between Canada and the Philippines that escalated last week when the Philippines recalled its ambassador and consuls general until Canada acted to take the garbage back.
The announcement comes hours after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered his government to find a company to take the waste and then leave it in Canadian waters.
Duterte ordered his government to hire a private shipping company to send containers back to Canada and leave them within its territorial waters if it refuses to accept the trash, his spokesman said on Wednesday.
“The Philippines as an independent sovereign nation must not be treated as trash by other foreign nation,” said Salvador Panelo, presidential spokesperson.
Canada says the waste, exported to the Philippines between 2013 and 2014, was a commercial transaction not backed by the Canadian government.
Canada has since offered to take the rubbish back but missed a May 15 deadline set by Manila to take back the shipment, prompting the Philippines to withdraw top diplomats from Canada last week.
WATCH: ‘We will declare war’ against Canada over dumped garbage, Duterte vows
“Obviously, Canada is not taking this issue nor our country seriously. The Filipino people are gravely insulted about Canada treating this country as a dump site,” Panelo said.
The Canadian embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Philippines has made several diplomatic protests to Canada since a 2016 court ruling that the garbage be returned.
The consignments were labelled as containing plastics to be recycled in the Philippines but were filled with a variety of rubbish including diapers, newspapers and water bottles.
The issue is not the only one to strain ties between the two countries.
Last year, Duterte ordered the military to cancel a $233 million deal to buy 16 helicopters from Canada, after Ottawa expressed concern they could be used to fight rebels.
With files from Reuters
© 2019 The Canadian Press