In the 1976 Canada signed and ratified both the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Both the ICESCR and the ICCPR include a clause about people’s right to have access to natural resources (land), additionally no people may be deprived of its (singular i.e. person) means of subsistence (enough land for subsistence).
All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.Part I Article 1.2 in both ICCPR and ICESCR
These are words which the government has agreed to use its maximum available resources to achieve the full realization of these human rights.
Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to take steps, individually and through international assistance and co-operation, especially economic and technical, to the maximum of its available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights recognized in the present Covenant by all appropriate means, including particularly the adoption of legislative measures.Part II Article 1.1 in ICESCR
Indeed Canada passed a “Poverty Reduction Act” in 2019, stating it wishes to be a world leader in the eradication of poverty and meet the obligations of ICESCR:
Canada aspires to be a world leader in the eradication of poverty; Whereas poverty reduction contributes to meeting Canada’s international human rights obligations, including under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rightspreamble of Canada’s Poverty Reduction Act (link)
The UN published a statement clarifying that poverty includes not having enough land to grow one’s food.
fundamentally, poverty is a denial of choices and opportunities, it is a violation of human dignity. It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society. It means not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having a school or a clinic to go to, not having the land on which to grow one’s food or a job to earn one’s living, nor having access to credit. It means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households and communities. It means susceptibility to violence and it often implies living on marginal and fragile environments, not having access to clean water and sanitation.STATEMENT OF COMMITMENT FOR ACTION TO ERADICATE POVERTY ECOSOC/5759, signed by heads of all UN Agencies (source) in June 1998
People may note that it says “or a job to earn one’s living”. In Canada more than 30% of people do not have a job, the vast majority of them do not have enough land to grow their own food. Free Trade Agreements make it very difficult or even impossible for businesses to compete with slave labour and ecologically destructive practices, large scale automation of countries elsewhere — so many of our skilled employment sectors keep shrinking. Also each year the real wage goes down due to inflation, and increasing prices of basic commodities including housing — so jobs becomes less and less viable route to meeting ones basic needs, peak real wage was in 1977 (link).
Notable to North American political rhetoric is an emphasis on “jobs” though as we know from the 2020 lockdown, jobs that involve commuting to and from work are bad for the environment. Indeed living in urban environments puts a strain on the ecology due to all the food needing to be transported in and waste being transported out, combined with the high ecological cost of urban construction and maintenance, as well as the industrial agriculture used to feed cities. An average Canadian urbanite uses the equivalent of 8 global hectares in ecological footprint. Considering that our planet’s ecology is in the midst of ecological collapse, we need to promote activities which are beneficial for the ecology, such as homesteading with permaculture food forests.
In Canada in order for one to grow one’s own food and stay warm in the winter requires at least 1 hectare of land. Half a hectare if properly managed with a short rotation coppice can reliably yield 1 cord of wood per year. While an average home needs 3 cords of wood to stay warm in the winter a small energy efficient home with good insulation and some passive thermal elements can manage on a single cord. A quarter hectare on an average year in full production can provide enough food to feed a 75kg homo sapien, however there are years with lower yield, so it is important that at least whole half hectare goes to food production, then the surplus in one area can be sold to areas with insufficient production. Note that this assumes an almost entirely vegan diet from a permaculture food forest, using fruits, chestnuts and acorns for carbohydrates, nuts and seeds for fats, and peashrubs and locust beans for protein, only animals consumed being crayfish or insects to meet B12 requirements. If one wanted to eat meat regularly, everyone would need at least 10 hectares.
There are 1.6 global hectares available per person on the planet, though in Canada we have 16 global hectares per person available (link). A global hectare is an amount of land that produces as much as a productive hectare of land. In Canada it’s going to depend on the eco-region. In arid places like the prairies, or in far northern areas like the taiga where the trees are sparse, may need 2 or more physical hectares for same yield as one gets per physical hectare in the most productive parts of Canada.
Setting a sustainable example for the globe is important not just for
alleviating local poverty but also as a matter of national security.
Climate change and the industrial agriculture used to feed cities is
producing desertification of our bread baskets. Within this century it
is projected that much of the southern US will turn into desert. Indeed
as I write this vast swaths of USA are on fire.
If we don’t want the USA (and many other countries) to come knocking on our door when they can’t grow their traditional crops due desertification, then we have to set a good example. In southern USA they will have to transition to eating cactus pears, dates, pistachios and other desert trees for food. Note that common Mercator maps can be deceptive, and that Canada is only 3% bigger than China, and less than 5% bigger than USA. So we simply don’t have room for as many refugees as will be created. USA has 3 global hectares per person available within their borders at this time.
If the USA does not adapt, and does come knocking, then there is a
likelihood that our food will be exported to them, and there will be
little if anything left for Canadians — as often happens in third world
countries even now.
If we take pro-active steps such as making a program to help each Canadian get a hectare of land from the regular real-estate market (which may require group purchases, severances, changes to zoning and bylaws) they can uses for homesteading, then Canadians can be food secure even in the event of a global famine.
So now you know about the human right to land in Canada and why it is important to transition as many people as we can to sustainable homesteading lifestyles. With homesteading communities of a 100,000 (about 32km by 32km area) or more, it would be possible to maintain industrial civilization with sufficient division of labour to manage the mining, refining, manufacturing and assembly of various goods. Even though it could also be scaled down to atom communities such as 50-60 people (which are optimal for social cohesion), it is possible to use these atom communities as building blocks that interconnect to make molecule societies of a hundred thousand or more.
Russia has already started the transition with the Russian Homesteading Act (2016) and over 80,000 people have already received a free hectare of land (link).
My call to action for you today is to be grateful for your right to land, and inform your family, friends and local politicians that we need Canada to fulfill this human right and be “a world leader in the eradication of poverty”, which means we’d have to at least catch up to Russia.