Letter to Prime Minister Harper Re: forthcoming G-20 meeting on the global financial crisis - March 26, 2009

March 26, 2009

Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

Re: Forthcoming G-20 meeting on the global financial crisis

Dear Prime Minister:

As you head to London next week for the second Group of Twenty (G-20) meeting, we are writing to urge Canadian leadership on four key issues related to the impact of the financial crisis on poor countries that we feel have been neglected up until now.

To date, your government has focused primarily on addressing the immediate fallout of the financial crisis, and has taken steps to restore the flow of credit and consumer confidence, boost spending, and create jobs. Canada has also encouraged G-20 countries to avoid protectionist measures that will only exacerbate the current climate.

It is of course imperative to agree on immediate measures to address the crisis. But we are deeply concerned about the lack of attention the G-20 has given so far to four key areas that impact both the North and South. We strongly urge Canada to support action on these issues at the upcoming G-20.

  • Ending global poverty and inequality – Reaffirm global aid commitments made by the G8 and the urgency for all donor countries to achieve the 0.7 percent of Gross National Income aid target.  Canada should commit to a ten-year timetable to reach this target, make aid more effective and extend debt cancellation to all indebted poor countries.
  • Ensuring decent jobs and public services for all – Ensure emergency funds are provided to countries to purse their own counter-cyclical policies, including establishing social safety nets and protecting livelihoods for the poor, and strengthening the public provision of essential services, without harmful policy conditions that limit democratic ownership of country-led development priorities.
  • Using stimulus packages to build a Green Economy and tackle climate change – Ensure a massive investment in a green “new deal” for a long-term sustainable global economy, governed by robust regulatory requirements and financial incentives at the national and international level established for this purpose. At the same time, push for a fair global deal at Copenhagen on verifiable and reportable cuts in greenhouse gas emissions sufficient to meet the science-based targets set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the transfer of adequate resources to help developing countries and emerging markets build their own green economies and adapt to climate change.
  • Democratizing the governance of the global economy – Guarantee that financial institutions, markets and products are held publicly accountable and are adequately regulated, including provisions to address tax havens. The World Bank and the IMF must be fundamentally transformed and held accountable to international standards on human rights, the environment and labour and to the United Nations. The role of the UN in overseeing the global economy should be strengthened.

The financial crisis, as well as the food, fuel and climate crises, are having a disproportionate impact on the livelihoods of the most vulnerable and already marginalized groups of society. We urge Canada to demonstrate leadership at the upcoming G-20, and press for the above initiatives to address the needs of the poorest people and nations in this current crisis.

Yours sincerely,

Catherine Coumans
Halifax Initiative Coalition

Caroline Boudreau
Africa Canada Forum

Maria-Luisa Monreal
Directrice générale

Michael Casey
Executive Director
Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace

Gerry Barr
Canadian Council for International Co-operation

Kenneth V. Georgetti
Canadian Labour Congress

John Urquhart
Executive Director
Council of Canadians.

Duff Conacher
Democracy Watch

Beatrice Olivastri
Chief Executive Officer
Friends of the Earth Canada

Dennis Howlett
Make Poverty History Canada

Roy Culpeper
The North-South Institute

Robert Fox
Executive Director
Oxfam Canada

Pierre Veronneau,
Directeur général

John Gordon,
National President,
Public Service Alliance of Canada

Chris Dendys
Executive Director

Nora Sanders
General Secretary
The United Church of Canada

Derek MacCuish
Executive Director
The Social Justice Committee of Montreal

Fergus Watt
Executive Director
World Federalist Movement - Canada

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