On December 7, the petition you signed for the Amazon rainforest was read out in the House of Commons. This week the federal government tabled a formal response to our demands

And it is… Just. Not. Good. Enough.

Petition delivery on Parliament Hill, October 2020. © Nhattan Nguyen

The Amazon rainforest is being destroyed at an alarming rate – purposely burned to clear land for cattle and industrial agriculture. This is being spurned on by Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been systematically dismantling environmental and Indigenous rights protections. But rather than taking a strong position on this, the federal government’s actions are so wishy-washy that they wouldn’t be likely to convince anyone, let alone Bolsonaro.

Here’s how the Minister of Foreign Affairs’ office responded to our demands:

What we asked for (demand #1)

We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Minister of Foreign Affairs to:
1) Immediately terminate the Canada-Mercosur free trade deal negotiations. 

The response we got

Nothing new to see here, folks. In its response, the Liberal government continues to perpetuate the myth that the Canada-Mercosur trade deal could somehow be negotiated in a way that would make it palatable. But no criteria or fine print can change the fundamental facts:

  1. Canada is negotiating a trade deal that would boost trade in precisely the agricultural products that are driving environmental destruction in the Amazon. 
  2. Canada would be partnering with – and legitimizing – a government that is systematically dismantling environmental and Indigenous rights protections. 

What we asked for (demand #2)

2) A public statement that the Bolsonaro government’s assault on the environment and human rights is unacceptable to Canada.

The response we got

The Minister’s response states that the government has “expressed its concerns” to Brazil about Amazon fires and deforestation. But the Liberal government has failed to take a firm and decisive position on Brazil’s environmental and human rights roll-backs – and makes no commitment to do so in future. 

Worse yet, the government is actively participating in Bolsonaro’s attempts to downplay Amazon deforestation and greenwash his government’s record. The statement refers to the Canadian Ambassador’s participation in a trip organized by the Brazilian government “to see firsthand the effects of deforestation in the Amazon and Brazilian efforts to combat it”. Greenpeace Canada called on the government to decline this invitation as the route avoided worst-hit areas and was considered to be little more than propaganda.

What’s next

The Amazon rainforest is approaching a tipping point and we are at risk of losing it forever. The Liberal government must show that they are serious about stopping the destruction of the world’s most important rainforest and protecting the lives of the hundreds of Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon. It must communicate an unequivocal message to the Bolsonaro government, most importantly by halting the Canada-Mercosur agreement.

And we will continue campaigning together until they do so.

The burning Amazon
Help defend the Amazon

Fires are threatening the largest rainforest on Earth, clearing land for cattle to feed the international demand for cheap beef. Tell the Canadian government to not be complicit in Amazon destruction!

Take action