Letter to PM Chrétien re: Third World Debt Cancellation and Upcoming G-8 Meeting in Cologne

Wednesday, June 09 1999

The Right Honourable Jean Chrétien
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

We wish to write you on the eve of the upcoming meeting of the G-8 in Cologne, to encourage you and your colleagues, the leaders of the most developed countries, in coming to an agreement to cancel the debts of the poorest and most highly indebted nations of the world.

We read with interest your March 25 speech in Winnipeg, in which you laid out Canada’s position on international debt. We wish to congratulate you for promising total cancellation of bilateral debts for various countries, as well as proposing other initiatives to challenge both the G-8 as well as the international institutions that hold the multilateral debts. We trust that the declaration on debt that is to be made at the Cologne meeting will provide more countries with deeper and faster debt relief, without the terrible structural adjustment conditionalities that in our opinion have hindered and slowed social development. We also hope that in the new budget Canada will announce substantial new resources toward international development assistance, especially for the alleviation of poverty and the cancellation of debt.

The support of the Bishops of Canada for debt cancellation has often been expressed to you. On May 14 last year, before you went to the Birmingham Summit, we expressed our hope that this issue be addressed with “further and decisive action.” This year, on February 2, along with seven other leaders of Christian Churches in Canada, we reiterated our call for total multilateral debt cancellation for fifty of the poorest countries in the world, as well as initiatives to assist middle-income countries. What is different as the Cologne meeting approaches, however, is a tremendously important window of opportunity. This is represented by the millions of signatures on the Jubilee 2000 petitions in support of the forgiveness of debts that will soon be presented to you and the other G-8 leaders.

The same window of opportunity is also evident with the more than 616,000 signatures that were accepted May 11 on Parliament Hill by the Minister for International Cooperation, Mme Diane Marleau.

Please be assured of our prayerful support and encouragement, Mr. Prime Minister, as you prepare for this important meeting.

+ Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte
Archbishop of Montreal
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops