Catholics offer advice to Pime Minister for G8 summit

  • June 26, 2008

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper is getting advice from Catholics.

In advance of the July 7-9 G8 meeting in Hokkaido, Japan, Harper has received letters from the bishops of the G8 nations and from the Congregation of Notre Dame sisters.

The bishops’ letter has become an annual affair sent to all G8 leaders from the episcopal conferences of the G8 nations. The letter, signed first by Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops president Archbishop James Weisgerber, urges Canada, along with the other large economies represented at the annual summit, to take responsibility for climate change.

“The costs of the initiatives to prevent and adapt to the harmful consequences of climate change should be borne more by the richer persons and nations who have benefited most from the emissions that have fuelled development and should not unduly burden the poor,” say the bishops in their letter.

The sisters have pointed advice and criticism for Harper on climate change.

“Canada has been pilloried internationally for abandoning our Kyoto commitments,” declares the teaching order which has shifted much of its energy in recent years to ecological and justice ministries. The sisters urge “binding targets to reduce (greenhouse gas) emissions.”

Both the sisters and the bishops want Harper to move the G8 agenda toward fulfilment of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals — primarily halving global poverty by 2015.

The sisters want Harper to commit to spend 0.7 per cent of Canada’s gross national income on development projects in poor countries. Canada set the 0.7-per-cent target and urged its adoption by the UN as part of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000. The government currently spends less than half that amount on overseas development aid.

“A public commitment from you to keep the promise to reach this target, with firm timelines for scheduled increases, would be a most welcome indication of Canadian resolve,” said the sisters.

The price of food is also on the minds of the bishops, and is likely to be a major issue at the G8 summit.

“Consider concrete proposals that mitigate the impact of the world food crisis,” write the bishops.

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