April 18, 2011
Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton

Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton

MICHAEL SWAN
THE CATHOLIC REGISTER

The number one demand churches are making from campaigning federal politicians is a concrete plan to reduce and end poverty in Canada.

The Canadian Council of Churches reiterated the ecumenical priority in a letter to all the national party leaders March 31.

"The issue of poverty, certainly our Scriptures call us to that over and over and over again," Canadian Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton told The Catholic Register.

The eight priority issues listed in the CCC letter largely repeat the priorities laid out last year by international faith leaders gathered in Winnipeg just before the G20 Summit in Toronto.

The CCC calls for a federal Anti-Poverty Act that would commit Ottawa to measurable goals and timelines, publicly comprehensible indicators of poverty and a mechanism for monitoring progress towards poverty- reduction goals.

SEVEN PRIORITIES

The consortium of 23 churches representing about 85 per cent of Canada's Christians lays out seven other priorities:

  • A plan to meet Canada's United Nations commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of its gross domestic product on overseas development aid.
  • A climate change strategy that will credibly contribute to keeping the average global temperature rise under two degrees by 2050.
  • A shift in Canada's commitment to Afghanistan away from military solutions.
  • A diplomatic commitment to work towards eliminating nuclear weapons.
  • Ratifying the United Nations Convention on Cluster Munitions.
  • New legislation to prevent human trafficking and prosecute traffickers.
  • Increased spending on alternatives to prison and effective rehabilitation for offenders in the criminal justice system.

LEADERS RESPOND

In past election campaigns, party leaders have taken the time to seriously answer CCC letters, said Hamilton.

"When you know the weight of representation carried by a letter like this, we do expect some response," she said.

Hamilton acknowledges the CCC is unlikely to get a positive response from any party on all eight demands. "We do these things because they're right."