By Barry Ellsworth
TRENTON, Canada (AA) – Canada announced Wednesday that it has hired a firm to bring back contentious garbage that has been rotting in 69 containers in the Philippines for six years.
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said the offending waste would be returned to Canada by the end of June.
Her announcement comes on the heels of a threat made Wednesday by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte that he would have the garbage shipped to Canada and dumped into Canadian waters.
“If Canada will not accept their trash, we will leave the same within its territorial waters or 12 nautical miles out to sea from the baseline of any of their country’s shores,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said at a news conference.
In all, 103 containers were shipped by an unnamed private Canadian company to the Philippines in 2013 and 2014. The garbage was labelled as recyclables but was actually garbage, including dirty diapers.
There are 69 containers left after the Philippines disposed of 34. The Philippines has tried to get Canada to take back the trash, but despite promises by Canada -- including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau -- that it would be removed, nothing has been done.
Last week, Duterte recalled the Philippines ambassador and consuls to Canada in protest and followed that with the threat.
It appears the threat worked because hours later, Canada acted, although McKenna put a spin on the announcement.
“Canada values its deep and long-standing relationship with the Philippines and has been working closely with Filipino authorities to find a solution that is mutually acceptable,” she said in a statement.
McKenna said the waste would be “safely treated” to coincide with Canadian health and safety requirements before it was returned. She said the treated garbage should be removed from the Philippines by the end of June and Canada would shoulder the cost.