Tuesday, June 05, 2007

bob vs steve

neither bob nor steve are my favourite people and i am not sure that i can take a side on this one because i have my own issues with both the make poverty history campaign and canada's refusal to meet the 0.7% gdp goal of foreign aid, but this is interesting nonetheless. i will write about my love for ethiopia soon, i promise.

Rocker slams Harper over aid vows to Africa
Andrew Mayeda and Norma Greenaway
CanWest News Service
Monday, June 04, 2007

BERLIN -- Irish rocker Bob Geldof says Canada is blocking an agreement to make specific African aid commitments at a meeting of the world's leading industrial countries this week.

Geldof, a prominent anti-poverty campaigner, also says Prime Minister Stephen Harper's refusal so far to live up to African aid pledges made two years ago by his predecessor Paul Martin is shameful and fuels what he sees as the growing credibility gap between politicians and voters.

Geldof levelled his criticism at the Conservative government in media interviews from London on Monday as he prepared to travel to Heiligendamm, Germany, where the annual G8 meeting opens Wednesday.

Climate change and poverty in Africa are at the top of the summit agenda.

"Canada is the worst culprit in blocking a significant communique (on African aid)," Geldof said in an interview with Reuters new agency. "All our information says they are refusing point blank to allow concrete figures. They are very, very far behind what they said they would do at Gleneagles."

Leaders at the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2005 agreed to double annual spending on aid to Africa by 2010-11.

Harper, who was attending pre-summit meetings in Berlin, brushed off Geldof's charges as he cited a series of African-oriented HIV-AIDS funding announcements made since his government took office.

Harper told reporters Canada was on track to meet the 2005 commitment, and his spokesmen denied Geldof's accusation Canadian officials were attempting to block specific commitments being written into the final G8 communique.

"I'm not sure what the basis of Mr. Geldof's allegations are," Harper said. "Canada made an important commitment in 2005. We are on track to honour that commitment."

Geldof, who also accused Italy of balking at specific language, said Canada's spending is more than $400 million short of the goal set two years ago. He took his numbers from a report by DATA, an African advocacy organization that has tracked the record of the G8 countries and found all countries wanting.

Geldof said Harper's refusal to meet the African aid commitment made by former prime minister Martin adds to the "mistrust and cynicism" voters feel about politicians.
"And there is no need because you are really fantastically wealthy," he declared in a CTV interview.

Dennis Howlett, co-ordinator of the Make Poverty History campaign in Ottawa, said international sources have told the group Canada is playing hardball on the wording of the G8 communique regarding both climate change and African aid.

"We have a number of different contacts who are fairly close to the negotiations and it would seem both on climate change and on aid to Africa, Canada is playing a negative roll," Howlett said in an interview.

Howlett said Canadian officials are more secretive about the position they are talking at the pre-summit negotiations than has been the case under earlier governments.

Howlett said Canada deserves some credit for increasing its aid to Africa even though it has not met the goal.

He said a bigger blot on Canada's record is the Harper government's failure to live up to his election promise to gradually raise Canada's overall spending on overseas aid to the average donor level among the members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, which now stands at about 4.6 per cent of GDP.

He said the figure in Canada, pushed by healthy economic growth, has slipped to 3.2 per cent of GDP from 3.3 per cent under the Conservative government.

Ottawa Citizen

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