A blog for those interested in issues of faith and justice.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Jim Flaherty's Proposed Budget and the Millennium Development Goals
Way back in 1969, Lester B. Pearson (then Minister of Foreign Affairs for Canada) proposed that if the developed nations of the world would give 0.7% of their Gross National Income (GNI) to Official Development Assistance (ODA), the global community could address the worst effects of poverty around the world. For a brief description of this initiative, see http://www.unicef.ca/portal/Secure/Community/502/WCM/HELP/take_action/G8/Point7_EN.pdf.
The 0.7% target was officially endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1970 (Resolution 2626). The original date set to meet this commitment was 1975.
Fast forward to the year 2000. The setting is the United Nations
Millennium Summit where 191 world leaders sign the Millennium Declaration (see http://www.un.org/millennium/declaration/ares552e.pdf). Eight goals - now known world wide as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - provide the framework for addressing humanity's most pressing needs. And a time line is established for completing this ambitious project - the year 2015 (see http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/). Once again the 0.7% target is endorsed as a viable means of financing the necessary steps needed to accomplish the goals.
Sadly, Canada has never even come close to meeting the 0.7% target. Currently, we give about 0.34%. So, this week Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has unveiled the government's proposed budget. I've listened to the pundits and financial analysts and provincial spokespeople and political strategists and academics dissect the budget and interpret it for us. There's lots of buzz about who will benefit and how it will affect this group of tax payers and that. Reading through the text of Jim Flaherty's pre-budget speech (http://money.canoe.ca/News/Other/2007/03/19/pf-3783433.html), I could almost believe that Canada is a great country and getting better all the time. We're good people. We look after one another. Heck - we've even started to realize that we ought to care a bit more for the environment. The future is bright.
But glaringly absent is any mention of Canada's responsibility for our neighbors in other parts of the world.