A New Beginning: A Call for Jubilee

Monday, September 28 1998

Honourable Paul Martin, chair, and Honourable Ministers of Finance of Commonwealth Nations, Ottawa

Dear Mr. Martin and Commonwealth Finance Ministers,

On the occasion of your annual meeting, we salute you and offer our best wishes for your deliberations.

We represent Canadian religious and non-governmental organizations who are part of a broader international initiative known as the Jubilee 2000 campaign.

Our name reflects our invocation of the biblical tradition of Jubilee and our belief that the approach of a new millennium presents an extraordinary opportunity for giving new hope to the impoverished people of the world.

We have chosen the occasion of your Ottawa meeting to launch the Canadian portion of the Jubilee 2000 petition campaign because we believe that you can play an important role in achieving debt remission for the poorest nations.

The petition we are circulating call upon the leaders of lending nations to cancel the backlog of bilateral and multilateral debts owed by the 50 most highly indebted poor nations by the year 2000. These petitions will be presented to the leaders of the Group of Eight industrial nations at their June, 1999 Summit in Cologne, Germany.

In addition to urging the cancellation of unpayable debts, we urge these leaders to take effective steps to prevent high levels of debt from building up again. We believe that sustainable economic and social development can only be achieved if debt relief is not tied to orthodox Structural Adjustment Programmes such as have been imposed in the past by the International Monetary Fund.

We believe that your Commonwealth meeting can play an important role in the success of this campaign. Both creditor and debtor countries are represented in your deliberations. Commonwealth countries have a history of collaboration on international economic issues.

Collectively, you are in a position to wield considerable influence within the international financial institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank, and the regional development banks.

We invite you to endorse and sign on to the goals of our Jubilee 2000 campaign during your Ottawa meeting. We also urge you to carry this endorsement forward into the annual meetings of the Bretton Woods institutions and to press the leaders of the Group of Eight countries to respond favourably to our petitions at their Summit in Germany in June 1999.

We look forward to positive results from your deliberations here in Ottawa.


Archbishop J. Barry Curtis
President, Canadian Council of Churches

Msgr. François Thibodeau, C.J.M.
Chair, Social Affairs Commission
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Michael G. Peers
Primate, The Anglican Church of Canada

The Right Reverend Bill Phipps
Moderator, The United Church of Canada

The Rev. Dr. William J. Klempa
Moderator of the 124th General Assembly
The Presbyterian Church in Canada

Bishop Telmor Sartison
President, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

Marv Frey
Executive Director, Mennonite Central Committee

Ray Elgersma
Canadian Ministry Director
Christian Reformed Church in North America

Gloria Keylor, S.P.
President, Canadian Religious Conference

Joe Gunn
Chair, Inter-Church Committee on Human Rights in Latin America

Dennis Howlett
National Coordinator
Ten Days for Global Justice

Doryne Kirby
Ecumenical Coalition for Economic Justice

Fabien Leboeuf
Executive Director
Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace

Norma Farquharson
Chair, Social Justice Committee
Women’s Inter Church Council of Canada

Harry J. Kitts
Executive Director
Citizens for Public Justice

Dale Hildebrand
Inter-Church Action for Development, Relief, and Justice

Susan Jacobsen
The Canadian Churches’ Forum for Global Ministries

Darlene Stepanik
Friends of El Salvador

Members of the Canadian Ecumenical Jubilee Initiative