Greenpeace PH to Trudeau: Take back Canada’s wastes

Abigail Aguilar
Greenpeace PH to Trudeau: Take back Canada’s wastes
'The Canadian waste issue is a test on how you treat your allies', Greenpeace-Philippines tells Canadian PM Justin Trudeau in an open letter

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

First, let me congratulate you and your cabinet on your historic win. The values you stand for are a glimmer of hope in this bleak and dreary world.

Some 103 container vans containing garbage from Canada arrived on Philippine shores between 2013 to early 2014, under the guise of recycling. The container vans, in reality, were filled with unrecyclable mixed wastes.

More than two years later, these wastes are still in our ports. Some have already been dumped in our landfills, while others are left rotting for Filipinos to deal with. Unfortunately, the Canadian government has literally done nothing to resolve this mess!

For many months, the Filipino people banged on the walls of the Canadian government hoping for answers, hoping for your country to respect ours. We rallied, wrote countless letters, and even set up numerous meetings, but not a bale of your country’s trash left our shores to return to Canada. (READ: DFA to send diplomatic protest to Canada over illegal trash)

Your predecessor, Stephen Harper was blind and deaf to the plea of Filipinos. Now, all eyes are on you as we look for a leader who will take a stand and have the heart to make a decision on this ugly issue of petrifying waste that has been festering in the Philippines for so long now.

WELCOME TO MANILA. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (C) walks towards his car after arriving at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport for the APEC Summit, November 17, 2015.

Under Mr Harper, the Canadian reputation of a green nation has been seriously tarnished. We have said this before, and we are saying this again: Prime Minister, the Philippines is not Canada’s dumping ground. (READ: Netizens, Canadians to PM Harper: PH not a garbage dump)

We want a strong Canadian leader who will finally take the moral high ground to right a wrong. You are actively pursuing an open, honest government. But more importantly, you aim to restore Canadian leadership in the world.

If Canada wants to restore its leadership, it must make a real, valuable, and credible contribution to a more peaceful world. That need has never been greater than it is today.

Your platform aptly said it: responsible governments do not walk away from challenges, or pretend they do not exist. The Canadian government cannot sweep this issue under the rug anymore. The Canadian waste issue needs a problem solver, not a politician who could cannot decide what is moral and right.

Your election is a welcome change. The global community is happy to see a forward-thinking leader like you. You say you have formed a diverse and gender-balanced cabinet because it is 2015. I am hoping that Canada takes back its waste because, to borrow your famous words, it is 2015.

'NOT YOUR TRASHCAN.' Greenpeace asks Trudeau to take back the waste sent to the Philippines. Photo from Greenpeace

The Philippines and Canada have, on many occasions, stood shoulder to shoulder on many issues. Your government said we are a valuable economic partner, and we thank you for that.

The Canadian waste issue is a test on how you treat your allies. It is a test of how you honor your international obligations, as this waste dumping issue violates the tenets of the Basel Convention, which both our countries have signed.

Household wastes, especially those that entered poorer countries maliciously, must be returned, without question and without delay. We urge you, Prime Minister Trudeau, to honor the Basel Convention. Hear the pleas of countless Filipinos whose national dignity has been maligned.

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau, do the right thing and take your country’s waste back home to Canada where it belongs.

Thank you for your time, and I hope you enjoy your stay here in Manila.


Abigail Aguilar


Abigail Aguilar is the Detox Campaigner for Greenpeace Philippines. She may be reached at

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