On December 3rd, 2012, Graham Lanktree interviewed Chris Snyder, Acting Chair of the Canadian Landmines and wrote this piece for Metro News in Ottawa.

On the anniversary of a successful anti-landmine treaty signed in Ottawa 15 years ago, anti-landmine groups criticized the federal government for taking a back seat on the treaty that saves 20,000 lives every year.

Since it was signed by 122 countries Dec. 3 in 1997, the Ottawa Treaty has helped bring casualties from landmines down from 32 a day in 2001 to 12 a day in 2011, said Paul Hannon, Executive Director of Mines Action Canada.

landmines in grass

“At a time of great instability and cynicism around governments’ ability to affect change, this treaty stands out,” said Hannon on Monday. “(It’s) not just a life saving treaty, but one that shows much can be done when governments, civil society and international organizations work together.”

Canada’s funding for action against landmines has dropped roughly 56 per cent in recent years, falling from $30.1 million in 2010 to $17 million in 2011, Hannon noted.

“This is the lowest funding level by Canada since 2002,” he said. “Canada can and should do much better than this. Considering the impressive results produced by such funding and given that the landmines treaty is generally known as the Ottawa Treaty, these are very disappointing numbers.”

The money not only goes to efforts to clear mines, but to rehabilitate and care for those maimed the by devices. Mines still litter countries such as Cambodia, Angola, Aghanistan and Columbia and have been used in the past year during the conflict in Syria by the government against rebel forces.

“We can’t start this long-term battle in 1997 and then leave it unfinished,” said Chris Snyder, Acting Chair of the Canadian Landmine Foundation, calling the treaty one the “most significant contributions” Canada has made to world peace since Lester B. Pearson’s work during the Suez Crisis.