June 28, 2010
Canada’s Indigenous peoples, threatened human rights workers in Congo and Colombia, HIV-infected mothers in Malawi, and Pacific Islanders whose homes and livelihoods are being destroyed by rising waters due to climate change —are among the strong articulate voices unheard at the G8 and G20 this past weekend in Ontario.
Urgent global issues were ignored. Leaders of the world mobilized inadequate resources for maternal health. By focusing on deficit reduction without the implementation of a “Robin Hood Tax” on speculation, they ensured that the burden of the financial crisis will be borne by the very people most in need of pensions, health care and social services, rather than the financiers who created the crisis.
Ignored were the world’s poor people whose lives so dramatically depend on actions of the G8 and G20. Also ignored were the non-governmental organizations whose long relationships with partners in the South inspire advocacy calls on their behalf.
More than ten thousand peaceful protestors strove to reach out with their message of solidarity, justice and compassion and yet were sidelined as press and public focussed on a small minority who employed vandalism and violence. The enormity and overwhelming nature of policing this summit caused many who would have participated in a peaceful march to stay home out of fear. The massive number of arrests evokes public concern that those arrested may include peaceful demonstrators and bystanders, and raises important questions about Canadian civil liberties.
If the leaders of the world had tackled climate change, or implemented a tax on speculation, or mobilized the resources required to end premature maternal death, this might have begun to address the concerns over the immense financial and social costs of these events.
Now is the time to start over, raising the positive, life-saving messages of people and their organizations in Canada and overseas. We call on the media to focus on issues ignored this past weekend, that may help our country make decisions of hope that build a more just and peaceful global community.