Letter to Prime Minister Harper Re: forthcoming UN Conference on the global financial crisis - May 12, 2009

May 12, 2009

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper,
Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0A2

Re: High-level participation at upcoming UN Conference

Dear Prime Minister Harper:

From June 1-3 the United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development will take place in New York. We the undersigned urge you to give this conference the political weight it deserves and to participate as our country’s Head of Government.

It is evident that the financial and economic crisis is turning into a poverty crisis. Peoples rich and poor and nations small and large are being affected. Recent estimates by the World Bank put an additional 53 million people living on less than $2 a day as a result of the global financial crisis. This is in addition to the 130-155 million people already pushed into poverty in 2008 from the food and fuel crises. 70 percent of these individuals are women. Furthermore, the International Labour Organization expects 51 million men and women will lose their jobs in 2009. Export growth is slowing rapidly, is expected to shrink by 16.8% in Asia, 12.5% in Africa, and 10% in Latin America. The crisis is likely to be long and severe.

Unfortunately, countries hardest hit do not have a place at the table where global solutions are being shaped. We acknowledge the attempt by the Group of 20 leaders to reach consensus on some immediate measures. However, extensive work remains to be done to mitigate the development and humanitarian impacts of the global financial crisis. Such solutions require more global participation in order to build broad consensus on sustainable reforms to the international financial and monetary system that make it resilient to crises in the future.

The UN is a unique forum in which to generate the broad ownership, knowledge and political support required to provide global solutions premised on the interests of all. Consequently, many countries have already announced that they will send their Heads of State to the UN conference, and many more countries are supportive of this meeting. We therefore urge you to follow suit. In addition to your own important participation, representation on Canada’s delegation of all Ministers implicated in the agenda would strengthen the results – including the Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs and International cooperation.

We look forward to an early announcement concerning your plans for participation in this important conference and an indication of what initiatives Canada will take to make it a success.

Yours sincerely,

Catherine Coumans
Chair, Halifax Initiative Coalition

On behalf of member organizations:
Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Social Affairs Office
Canadian Council for International Co-operation
Canadian Friends of Burma
Canadian Labour Congress
CAW-Canada Social Justice Fund
Democracy Watch
Falls Brook Centre
Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
MiningWatch Canada
The North-South Institute
Oxfam Canada
Oxfam Québec
Social Justice Committee
Steelworkers Humanity Fund
World Interaction Mondiale

cc.Hon. Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs
    Hon. James Flaherty, Minister of Finance
    Hon. Beverley Oda, Minister for International Co-operation

    Michael Ignatieff, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada
    Gilles Duceppe, Leader of the Bloc Quebecois
    Jack Layton, Leader of the New Democratic Party
    Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada