When Stephen Harper appears on an international stage these days, he likes to toot his own horn. Canada, he says, is the best of the best.
But, yesterday, Olivier de Schutter -- the United Nations special reporter on the right to food -- gave Canadians and the rest of the world some disturbing and embarrassing information:
He said he was particularly concerned about the large number of people living on social assistance who see their income drained away by housing, and can’t afford to provide an adequate diet for their families.
“Here I have to say my concerns are extremely severe, and I don’t see why I should mince my words,” he said.
“People are simply too poor to eat decently.”
The simple truth is that income inequality leads to hunger and malnutrition. That used to be the case in Third World countries. It's now becoming the status quo in "the best of the best."
The Harper government -- which is absolutely unconcerned about income inequality -- responded with typical smugness. Jason Kenny personified that smugness:
“I think this is completely ridiculous,” Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said just before the envoy presented his report.
“Canada is one of the wealthiest and most democratic countries in the world. We believe that the UN should focus on development … in countries where people are starving. We think it’s simply a waste of resources to come to Canada to give political lectures.”
When Attawapiskat was in crisis earlier this year, the Harper government responded by sending in an accountant. Now it proposes to get rid of the accountants.
One wonders if the Harperites -- most of whom claim to be Christians -- are familiar with the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. The rich man only saw Lazarus when it was too late.