03/28/2013 09:42 EDT | Updated 03/29/2013 09:17 EDT

Elizabeth May Compares Canada To North Korea Over Drought Convention Withdrawal (TWEETS)


Green Party leader Elizabeth May is calling out the Harper government after it was revealed this week that Canada has withdrawn from a United Nations convention that fights drought.

“The treaties he views as of no importance are those designed to protect the environment. What message does it send to African nations that in the same week we eliminate CIDA, we withdraw from a treaty to stop the advance of deserts?” said May in a media release.

But the B.C. MP's most pointed criticism came on Twitter, where on Thursday, May tweeted that Canada's withdrawal from the convention was making us the "North Korea of environmental law:"

Federal Heritage Minister James Moore responded to May with a curt "classy."

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification works to battle the effects of drought around the globe, with emphasis on African nations. The withdrawal makes Canada the only UN member country not taking part in the convention, which Ottawa ratified in 1995.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said the convention was just a "talkfest." Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the program was overly bureaucratic and only one-fifth of the $350,000 Canada contributes to the convention goes to programming.

Some Twitter users seemed to share May's dismay, although others were critical of the comparison to North Korea. Read reaction to both below:

Story continues after slideshow.

The Green Party leader has never kept quiet with criticism for the Harper government's environmental record and has been particularly outspoken about Canada's withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol.

"Canada continues to be a country that pushes other countries to do less. Our role is not just an embarrassment, it's reckless and brings our once good national reputation into disrepute," May said last November as nations met to negotiate a new agreement.

She also said that Canada had decided to "sabotage global agreements" and that we'd done "far more damage to the global climate through obstructing negotiations, through twisting arms to try to keep India from taking on targets, to try to stop global progress, than we have ever done through the volume of our emissions."

May was hardly the only politician to lament Canada's withdrawal from the drought convention. More from the Canadian Press:

Robert Fowler, a former Canadian ambassador to the UN, said Canada's abandonment of the convention amounted to a "departure from global citizenship."

"It has taken climate-change denial, the abandonment of collective efforts to manage global crises and disregard of the pain and suffering of the peoples of sub-Saharan Africa (among many others) to quite a different level," Fowler said in an email.

Fowler ridiculed Baird's common refrain on foreign policy that Canada isn't interested in "going along to get along."

"No, by jingo, we're not going to go along to get along! Such vainglorious nose-thumbing at the international community's efforts to tame a very present threat to hundreds of millions of the world's most poorest and most desperate people is nothing short of incomprehensible."

Barlow said the Harper government is "anti-environment" and is more interested in exploiting Canada's mineral and energy wealth as an "energy superpower."

"That's why they're shutting down all evidence and all research and any international institutions that can provide more information on what this is about."

Former Liberal environment minister Stephane Dion said the government can't take any meaningful steps to combat the encroachment of deserts when it is outside an international process that includes every other country on the planet.

"How can you improve something when all the countries that are working on it together are around the table except you?" said Dion.

"It's affecting Canada as well, in the Prairies. Climate change will make it even worse. It would exist without man-made climate change."

With files from the Canadian Press