Sure, that is unfair, but given that much of Harper's politics is us or them, with us or against us (anyone remember his party's take on those opposed to his party's take on internet regulation--calling opponents of the effort supporters of child p-orn), then if you are against the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, does not that make you pro-desert? Just asking.
This reminds so much of the penny-wise, pound-foolish effort by Rumsfeld to get the US out of every overseas obligation, no matter how much political capital might be gained by stationing a few folks in East Timor or whatever.
Is this because of climate change?
The meeting would have forced Canada to confront scientific analysis on the effects of climate change, droughts and encroaching deserts. The Harper government has been vilified an as outlier on climate change policy in past international meetings.Maybe, but that is still damned silly. Canada is going to face criticism on climate change whether it belongs to this organization or not. Actually more so now. Perhaps the government is either still feeling hurt because Canada did not get into last round of the UN Security Council or perhaps this is part of a larger effort to spurn multilateralism, which is such a Liberal value.
While the money involved might seem like a lot, compared to the political capital now burned by being THE ONLY country to pull out, this is just heaps of dumb. Even if you want to protect miners, the oil industry and what not, there are better ways than this. But figuring out the diplomatic costs of this would require consulting someone .... like the folks at Foreign Affairs. And that is just not the way this government operates.