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by Jacob Patterson-Stein
At the end of March, while answering questions in the House of Commons, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper calmly explained
why he was stopping payments to an organization that, in his words,
“spends less than 20 percent of the funds that we send […] on
programming.” At a time when governments everywhere are feeling the urge
to justify spending, it is not surprising that representatives cheered
after the PM’s brief statement. What caught many international observers
off guard, however, was the organization to which Harper was referring:
the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
Indeed, even the UN was surprised to learn that Canada was withdrawing
from the Convention and reportedly only found out about Ottawa’s
decision after being reached for comment by Canadian press.