Public Values

G8 leaders offer little and fail to hold themselves accountable

Harper lost on maternal health because he wasted political capital opposing bank tax.

Harper wasted political capital opposing bank tax - Dennis Howlettby Ish Theilheimer

TORONTO, June 26, 2010, Straight Goods News with YouTube video: The 2010 G8 Summit has ended, with little achieved to justify its existence or the costs incurred to host it.

Make Poverty History, Canada's largest coalition of NGOs, faith-based groups, labour and student unions, says the eight leaders are offering the world's poorest people a pittance, in the midst of a growing economic and climate crisis.

In spite of Prime Minister Harper's declaration that this would be the "accountability" summit, there is barely a mention of what happened to past promises still unfulfilled.

The communique is silent on:

  • the promise leaders made five years ago in Gleneagles to double aid to Africa;
  • why they are $14 billion short on that pledge; and
  • what they will do about it.

"It's not just contemptuous to the people of Africa that they do not even acknowledge this, it's a tragedy playing itself out in the deaths of thousands of people every day," said Dennis Howlett. National Coordinator of Make Poverty History. "Our worst fears are being realized. Donor governments, struggling with deficits, are cutting the world's poor loose."

Dennis Howlett talks about the G8 outcome:

He told Straight Goods News that the principal problem at G20 was that Canada's Steven Harper "wasted political capital" and precious time on opposition to a bank tax that many of his international partners wanted. It is possible that, as a result, his politicized maternal health initiative failed to win broad support.

"While the G8 recommitted to delivering on food security promises made last year and restated their position on climate change, there is little new that will help us move forward on making this a better world for all of us," says Gerry Barr, Chair of Make Poverty History and CEO of Canadian Council for International Cooperation (also, recently defunded by the Harper government).

In the face of this, civil society groups are turning to the G20 meetings about to get underway, urging leaders to adopt a Financial Transaction Tax – a tiny fee charged on all international market transactions which would create a fund for global poverty reduction and climate change adaptation. The tax would also be used to recover bank bailout and stimulus funds, and would help curb destabilizing speculation.

Pressure is mounting on the G20 from Europe, where the EU, President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel are all calling for the global tax, popularly known as "The Robin Hood Tax".

Posted: June 26, 2010

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