The Honourable Steven Harper, Prime Minister of Canada
Dear Prime Minister,
I am writing to you in advance of the June G-8 Leaders’ meeting in County Fermanagh, Ireland.
The Halifax Initiative is a coalition of 20 Canadian environmental, development, faith-based, human rights and labour organizations concerned with international economic justice issues. We coordinate research, analysis, education and outreach focused on the democratization of the international financial system to achieve environmental sustainability, poverty eradication and the equitable redistribution of wealth.
In spite of Canada's attempt to bury it at the Toronto G20 meeting, a tax on financial transactions is back on the global agenda and gaining momentum.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has pledged to use his term as chair of the G20 to reform the global financial system and curb the speculation that contributed to the economic crisis. At the top of his agenda is an international financial transactions tax (FTT) to fund the fight against poverty and climate change.
The North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA) recently devoted an edition of its magazine Report on the Americas to Canadian foreign policy in Latin America. The Canadian edition features an article by HI's Program Officer on Canadian mining investment in the region. The article describes recent efforts to reform domestic policy and law regarding the overseas operations of Canadian extractive companies. It focuses on current initiatives that seek to create accountability mechanisms for several government agencies that facilitate Canadian mining, oil and gas investments in the global South.
What’s changed in the international financial system and its institutions, what hasn’t and what needs to
Back in 1995, the G7 met in Halifax during a “time of change and opportunity.” The meeting took place in a context of mounting deficits and debt crises in countries in the South; in the wake of economic collapse in Mexico; and amid strong global criticism from civil society, the media and governments about the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) austere neo-liberal structural adjustment policies.
A lot has changed since then, partly in response to the Halifax G7 Summit and subsequent G7 and G8 meetings. Too many of these improvements, however, exist only on paper. Beyond the surface, the neo-liberal, market-oriented bias that guides the Bank and Fund’s agenda and thinking has not altered.
The 2010 G8 Summit in Toronto in 2010 takes place during another “time of change and opportunity.” The financial crisis has spurred many civil society organizations (CSOs) to insist on far-reaching changes to the global financial system and its institutions. Clearly, as this publication will illustrate, 15 years of refusing to deal with the manifest shortcomings of the global economic system is enough.
Hon. James Flaherty
Minister of Finance
Department of Finance Canada
140 O’Connor Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G5
Hon. Lawrence Cannon
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2
1st February 2010
Ref: Immediate debt cancellation for Haiti
Dear Ministers Flaherty and Cannon,
We are writing to commend the government’s efforts to date to mobilise emergency assistance for disaster relief in Haiti and for speaking to the urgency and importance of debt cancellation for the country. The call to cancel Haiti’s remaining multilateral debt, including last week’s highly concessional $102 million loan from the IMF, benefits from a strong Canadian voice. We urge you to keep demonstrating such leadership in the government’s interventions at the Bretton Woods Institutions, and at Haiti’s largest multilateral creditor, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).