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10,000 “invoices” calling G8 leaders to account

For immediate release

Church coalition makes public 10,000 “invoices” calling G8 leaders to account for social and ecological devastation

(June 25, 2002 – CALGARY) -- On the eve of the G8 summit in Kananaskis, outside Knox United Church in Calgary, members of the Canadian inter-church justice coalition KAIROS made public a huge paper chain made up of 10,000 signed “invoices” calling G8 leaders “to account” for outstanding social and ecological debts created by policies they have imposed on countries around the world.

The invoices signed by concerned citizens from across Canada were collected during a KAIROS tour that visited eight Canadian cities prior to the arrival of G8 leaders for the Kananaskis Summit.

The tour took respected leaders of citizens’ organizations in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Argentina and Sri Lanka to talk with Canadians about their first hand experience of the impact of G8 policies. The international visitors also shared their concerns about the implications of G8 proposals like the so-called New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and called for alternative policies that have the support of broad-based grassroots movements.

From Moncton, New Brunswick to Kelowna, B.C., Canadians responded by signing invoices that call the leaders of G8 countries to account for “perpetuating an unjust economic regime” and “failing to safeguard a future for the generations that follow”.

“It’s clear that many Canadians are concerned about our government’s role within an elite group of rich and powerful countries that continues to impose economic austerity programs and so-called trade liberalization policies on poorer countries with disastrous consequences for the lives of millions of people,” states Pat Steenberg, Executive Director of KAIROS.

Adds Steenberg: “The thoughtful messages so many people wrote on their invoices also indicate solid support for a significantly different economic approach that puts people, communities and a healthy environment first.”

“Our world needs leaders committed to the common good – adequate health care, education, housing, clean water, protection of the environment, food security, sharing of resources, respect for human rights and diversity of cultures,” wrote Jennifer Watts of Halifax on her invoice to the G8. “Please choose to make a difference in this world – one for the common good.”

On June 24, KAIROS couriered a box of 1,000 invoices to the Prime Minister’s Office in Ottawa, together with a letter urging the host of the Kananaskis G8 summit to “hear the voices and concerns of your people, expressed in these messages”.

KAIROS staff attempted to fax other invoices from Calgary -- the final stop on KAIROS’ Calling the G8 to Account tour -- to Kananaskis where the G8 leaders will meet on June 26 and 27.

Earlier, in an Open Letter sent to the Prime Minister on June 17, KAIROS specifically called on the G8 for 100 percent cancellation of all bilateral and multilateral debts owed by low-income countries, independent mechanisms to assess and cancel the illegitimate debts of all developing countries, and an end to austere economic restructuring measures – known as structural adjustment programs (SAPs) – which poor countries have been required to implement in order to qualify for debt cancellation or further loans.

KAIROS also signalled regret over Prime Minister Chrétien’s decision to promote the NEPAD initiative, given that it “does not break away from the failed economic model embodied in SAPs” and “involves an even greater opening up of African economies to foreign investment, especially in hydro-electric, mining and petroleum projects.”

States the KAIROS letter to the Prime Minister: “Our church partners in Africa call NEPAD ‘a partnership with African leaders without the African people’ and demand that citizens be consulted before these plans are implemented.”

For more information, to obtain interviews or to obtain photos taken during the
public presentation of 10,000 “Call to Account” invoices, contact:
Kathy Price at 416-463-5312, ext. 223 or 416-268-9538 (cell)

KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives is a renewed ecumenical partnership bringing together the former Aboriginal Rights Coalition, the Canada Asia Working Group, the Ecumenical Coalition for Economic Justice, Inter-Church Action for Development, Relief and Justice, the Inter-Church Coalition on Africa, the Inter-Church Committee for Human Rights in Latin America, the Inter-Church Committee for Refugees, PLURA, the Taskforce on the Churches and Corporate Responsibility and TEN DAYS for Global Justice.

KAIROS is formed by the Anglican Church of Canada, Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops: Social Affairs Commission, Canadian Religious Conference, Christian Reformed Church in North America, Mennonite Central Committee of Canada, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Presbyterian Church in Canada, Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and the United Church of Canada.

© Scoop Media

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