Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Waste Angers Filipinos; Canada Says It's 'Private Commercial Matter'

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Waste Angers Filipinos; Canada Says It's 'Private Commercial Matter'

Article excerpt

Canadian waste spurs protests in Philippines

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OTTAWA - Fifty containers of reeking Canadian garbage, including used adult diapers, have been languishing in the port of Manila for almost two years, sparking recent protests in the Philippines by environmental and public health activists.

The protesters, among them a Catholic priest, say the containers hold toxic and hazardous waste, although a recent study by Philippines officials suggests they're simply stuffed with household trash.

"Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government is an embarrassment to the civic-minded and environmentally conscious Canadians," priest Robert Reyes said at a protest last week on the steps of the Canadian embassy.

"We know this is not the real Canada. We urge Prime Minister Harper to take immediate action. Take back your illegal waste shipment now."

But a spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs reiterated the government's long-stated opinion that the case is a "private commercial matter involving a Canadian company and its Philippines partner."

"The embassy engaged the government of the Philippines and its appropriate agencies to actively seek to assist and resolve it in keeping with the spirit of collaboration and co-operation that characterizes our countries' relations," Amy Mills said in an email.

Chronic Inc., a plastics exporter based in Whitby, Ont., shipped the containers -- supposedly filled with recyclable Vancouver plastics -- to the Philippines in the spring and summer of 2013.

But upon inspection, the country's Bureau of Customs found the containers were filled with stinking household garbage, including used adult diapers and kitchen waste.

The bureau said the material could "pose biohazard risks" and impounded the shipment.

Chronic Inc.'s owner, Jim Makris, couldn't be reached for comment. But he denied in an interview with the Toronto Star a year ago that he shipped garbage to the Philippines and also suggested he was being punished for failing to pay off Filipino officials when his containers arrived. …

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