Canada Coalition Pulls Back a Chair

It appears that Canada is quite enjoying its time in the spotlight these days. As if hosting the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver (and becoming gold medalists in hockey) wasn’t enough, Canada is also the official head of the Group of 20 nations this year, and will therefore play host to the world’s most influential leaders this summer at the G8 and G20 Summits in and around Toronto. And with the global event fast approaching, Canadian advocacy organizations and activists alike are beginning to outline exactly what they hope their country will accomplish in its new role as a legitimate player on the international stage.

In the first of what will most likely be many events leading up to the summer summit, anti-poverty organization, Make Poverty History, along with a coalition of development NGO’s, labor, student and faith-based organization, launched a campaign this week called AT THE TABLE, which aims to pressure the Canadian government to increase its commitment to foreign aid. The global campaign brings together more than 60 partner organizations, including Oxfam, UNICEF and Amnesty International, that are all dedicated to ensuring that the voices of the world’s poorest nations are “at the table” of this year’s G8 and G20 summits. The overarching goal of the campaign calls for leaders to take bold measures to alleviate extreme poverty, address climate change and economic reform through increased foreign aid and a commitment to take action.

Launched in conjunction with International Women’s Day on March 8, the campaign is extremely timely given that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s recently released budget effectively freezes Canada’s foreign aid spending at 2010-2011 levels – this is despite a promise to make improving the health of women and children in the world’s poorest regions a major focus of this year’s G20 summit on June 26 and 27. The Table coalition believes that Prime Minister Harper is out of sync with other world leaders on the issues of foreign aid, climate change and global economic recovery after last week’s budget announcement flat lined Canada’s contributions until 2014.

Though the G8 and G20 are the first global events on the campaign’s radar, AT THE TABLE plans to continue mobilizing citizens to “take their place” at a number of other global events, including the G20 summit in South Korea and the UN Millennium Development Goals Summit in September.

To learn more about the campaign, visit their website at http://atthetable2010.org/

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